Southern Utah University men’s basketball team completed the two-game sweep over California State University of Sacramento Saturday, winning 77-57. Head coach Todd Simon and his staff honored John Knight III, Dre Marin, and Ivan Madunic on the program’s annual Senior Day.
Knight led the way for the T-Birds with 16 points and four rebounds on an efficient 8-11 from the field. Tevian Jones scored 15 while pulling down eight boards and Maizen Fausett scored 14 while snagging nine rebounds. Marin added 11 points, and is now just six away from passing the 1,000 point threshold.
Ethan Esposito scored 16 for the Hornets and was limited to just 5-of-14 from the field. Bryce Fowler scored 14 on 18 shots. The Hornets shot just 18% from 3-point range.
“We dialed in on what we had to do to get the win,” Marin said. “Everyone was talking and we played hard [today].”
The game was a near carbon-copy of Thursday night’s battle and the teams were neck and neck throughout the first half.
SUU jumped out to an early four point advantage thanks to three Marin free throws, but both teams went scoreless for the two minutes that followed. Fowler broke the ice with a layup to cut the lead back to two points, however a Fausett 3-point shot just 14 seconds later put the T-Birds back up five.
The teams went back and forth the remainder of the half, but SUU never trailed in the contest. Madunic made a second chance lay up with 8:56 to go in the half to give the T-Birds a seven-point lead — their biggest of the game to that point.
Esposito, Fowler and Christian Terrell kept things interesting for the final five minutes of the half, countering each SUU basket with one of their own. When the half drew to a close, Esposito, Fowler and Terrell had combined for 26 of the Hornet’s 32 points.
Despite their efforts, SUU closed the half with a three point lead, 35-32.
Terrell scored first out of the break to cut the T-Bird lead to one, but Jones immediately countered with a layup to take the lead back to three. One possession later, Jones hit a triple to extend the lead to six.
Slowly but surely, the T-Birds expanded their lead. Terrell got himself into foul trouble and was forced to ride the pine for the majority of the second half and Sac. State struggled as a result.
“We knew coming in us seniors were going to have jitterbugs in our stomachs,” Knight said. “We got that out of the way in the first half.”
Harrison Butler’s dunk at the 14:15 mark gave the T-Birds their first double digit lead. Over the next 10 minutes, the T-Birds would add another 12 points to the margin, marking their highest lead of the game with 22. Knight scored the final bucket of the game to make the final score 77-57.
Knight, Marin, and Madunic all received standing ovations as they left the floor.
SUU continued their season of dominance on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 40-33.
“They take pride in it,” Simon said. “Nationally, we’re as good as it gets on the glass.”
The win gives SUU a 13-0 record at home this season and 15-3 overall.
The T-Birds return to the floor Wednesday, Feb. 24 in Cedar City against Northern Arizona University to wrap-up their home games for the 2020-21 season. The game is set to tip off at 6 p.m. and can be viewed on PlutoTV.
Story by: Kelton Jacobsen
Photo by: Mitchell Quartz