The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team rebounded after an 11-point loss on Thursday by beating Northern Arizona University in the second game of a two-game series Saturday in the America First Events Center, 97-80.
While the game was touted as “Senior Day” to honor seniors Liz Graves and Megan Kamps, it was the guards for SUU, Madelyn Eaton and Cherita Daugherty, who cemented the win over the Lumberjacks.
Daugherty scored 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, while snagging six boards and dishing out six assists. Eaton scored 16 to go along with her six rebounds and five assists. Both Eaton and Daugherty played over 37 minutes.
“[Daugherty] is just so athletic, I don’t think she realizes how good she can be,” head coach Tracy Sanders said. “When you add Maddy out there, she’s constantly running the floor and it wears people down.”
Graves also finished with 16, while Kamps scored eight on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field.
“Meg is playing her best basketball right now,” Sanders said. “I thought she was productive when she was in and that’s huge.”
Khiarica Rasheed scored a game-high 27 in the loss for NAU. Regan Schenk followed with 16 while going 4-of-6 from the 3-point line, and Emily Rodabaugh was the only other NAU player to score in double figures with 13.
SUU hopped out to an early 6-2 lead on layups from Graves, Darri Frandsen, and Margarita Santini. NAU roared back and took the lead with 6:40 to go in the first. A second-chance 3-point jumper from Schenck expanded the Lumberjack lead to six with just under two minutes to go.
Daugherty responded by scoring eight points in 81 seconds to put the T-Birds up two going into the second quarter.
The T-Birds made a couple of substitutions to sure up the rebounding battle. Pyper Thornberry started the second quarter for Sanders and immediately made an impact, scoring the first two buckets of the period.
NAU battled the T-Birds throughout the second quarter, at one point cutting the SUU lead to just three, but long-range sniper Sam Johnston hit a deep ball at the 2:48 mark to end the Lumberjack run and expand the lead back to six.
Three buckets from Eaton, Graves and Daugherty pushed the lead to 13 with just 1:12 to go in the half. A Rasheed free-throw and a second-chance layup by Jacey Bailey cut the lead to 10 at the halftime buzzer, 50-40.
The Lumberjacks couldn’t string together a run big enough to overtake the T-Birds in the third. A Schenck 3-pointer brought the Lumberjacks within six with 1:53 to go in the period, but that was as close as NAU would get to coming back in the contest.
SUU kept its foot on the gas and pushed the lead to 17 on a Thornberry and-1 with 4:24 to go in the fourth quarter. Graves scored the final four points of the game for the T-Birds to highlight what has been a remarkable year for the Mapleton, Utah, native.
“I felt like we had really good ball movement,” Graves said. “When we did miss we were all crashing [the boards].”
The final buzzer sounded, giving SUU the 97-80 win over NAU. The T-Birds improved to 10-7 on the season with a conference record of 5-4. SUU needs just one more conference game to go through in order to receive their proper Big Sky tournament standing, otherwise they will automatically be ranked 11th going into the tournament.
“I’m happy to get a good one at the end of this season,” Kamps said. “Any time I’m on the team I’m going to contribute whether that’s on the court or on the bench.”
The T-Birds will play their final two games of the season during SUU’s spring break in Cedar City. Game one against Portland State University will tip-off Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., while game two will take place Friday at 6:30 p.m. Both games can be viewed on PlutoTV channel 1055.
Story by: Kelton Jacobsen
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletic Department Strategic Communications