The Southern Utah University men’s basketball team handled NAIA foe Benedictine University at Mesa by a score of 110-58 in the America First Events Center Saturday.
The Thunderbirds, who were originally scheduled to play the University of Northern Colorado this week, used the game to stay sharp for the final stretch of Big Sky conference play.
“I thought our guys played with a lot of hunger today,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said postgame. “It’s really hard to score that many points in a game, especially against a team like Mesa that’s played a lot of Division I games this year.”
Saturday’s win is the tenth straight at home for SUU, and marked the most points scored in a game by the team this season.
Eight T-Birds finished in double figures and every player who was available to play saw extended time on the floor. Marquis Moore led the way offensively for the T-Birds, scoring a season-high 18 points on 6-of-8 FG. Dee Barnes and Aanen Moody added 15 points each.
The Redhawks started the game quickly, jumping out to a 6-0 lead after a 3-pointer by Jalen Grivalja and an and-1 by Austin Denham, who finished with 13 points on 5-of-19 FG.
That would be the largest lead Benedictine at Mesa would hold, though the Redhawks would maintain their advantage until the first media timeout, up 14-9.
The T-Birds scored eight straight points after the timeout, and after another three by Denham, poured in 15 more to cap a 23-3 outburst that put the T-Birds ahead by 16 with nine minutes left in the half.
Simon deployed a full-court press for most of the half, forcing nine Redhawk turnovers.
Nine different T-Birds scored a basket and the team dished out 11 assists on the way to claiming a 53-33 lead at halftime.
SUU shot 22-of-36 (61%) from the field in the first half, and held BUM to 13-of-30 (43%).
DJ Tate scored the first basket of the second half for the Redhawks to cut the lead to 18, but that’s as close as his team would come to staging a comeback.
The T-Birds scored four of their first five field goals after the break and extended the lead to 28 points after a jumper by Nick Fleming with 16:27 remaining.
A few minutes later Barnes found Moody for a transition layup to go ahead by 30.
Simon emptied his bench in the second half, and the T-Bird bench combined for 66 points in the game.
Fleming scored an easy layup at the basket to push the T-Birds into the triple digits, giving SUU its largest lead of the contest 101-55.
With the win, SUU improves to 11-3 on the season. The team will host NAIA opponents San Diego Christian College on Tuesday, Feb. 9, before its bid for a Big Sky conference championship resumes against Sacramento State on Thursday, Feb. 18.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics Strategic Communication