Basketball season is in full swing as Southern Utah University’s teams set their sights on the Big Sky. Both the men and women take on Eastern Washington on Thursday, Dec. 2 to begin their conference play for the season. As they gear up to take on the Eagles, here are three takeaways from the womens’ preseason slate:
Women’s basketball : 2-4
SUU women’s basketball started the season with a four-game losing streak beginning with a two-point loss to California State Fullerton and ending with a 92-59 blowout at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Then the Thunderbirds returned to Cedar City where they won their next two games against SAGU American Indian College (120-59) and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (80-67).
In the season preview, one of the keys for this team’s success was to compete in each of these six non-conference games. This team could very well be 4-2 if a couple of shots would have gone their way in the games against Cal State and Utah Valley University (60-54), so it is safe to say that this team accomplished that goal. Here is what we learned from those games:
1. This team is still struggling to find its leader
The opening-game loss to Cal State was a game where SUU led almost the whole game, only for the lead to slip away in the final two minutes of the game. In the loss against UVU, the Thunderbirds started a comeback late in the fourth quarter that died out after players missed shots. In both instances, they were seemingly lacking a go-to player that can be trusted to get a bucket when needed. We knew coming in that there was going to be a lot of experimentation with the rotations so that could be playing a factor. Whatever the reason is, this team needs somebody to step up and take over if they want to compete in the Big Sky Conference.
2. Lizzy Williamson could be the answer at center
At 6 foot five inches, the redshirt sophomore from Australia has something that simply can not be taught: size. On top of that, head coach Tracy Sanders is known for her ability to develop post players. This combination has seen Williamson have an excellent early start to the season. She has seen her role increase in every game this season, including a game against SAGU where she had 35 points and 23 rebounds. Williamson has yet to prove herself against a proven center from a competitive program, but her early season tape suggests that she has the tools to get the job done.
3. Cherita Daugherty should be taking more shots
Daugherty has been excellent for the Thunderbirds both defensively and off the ball. As a 5-foot-10-inch guard, the senior leads the team in steals (8) and assists (23), and is second on the team with 36 total rebounds. Scoring at least 10 points in each of the first two games of the season, Daugherty has slowed down over the last four games. Shooting 37% from the three point line last season, we know that she has the ability to be a game changer. This season, she has looked a lot more timid on her way to 23% three-point shooting. If Daugherty can become more comfortable leading the scoring charge, there is more than a good chance of her shooting percentage rising. Hitting their threes will be the key for this team’s success moving forward.
SUU women’s basketball hosts Eastern Washington University this Thursday, Dec. 2. Tipoff is at 6:30 p.m. in the America First Event Center and the game can also be watched on ESPN+.
Article by: Christian Esparza
Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics