After a great week of Southern Utah University men’s basketball, the Thunderbirds added another win to their record against the Bethesda University Flames on Monday, Nov. 14. The win moved the Thunderbirds to a 3-1 record to start the season.
The team traveled for their next matchup against the University of Kansas Jayhawks and were in for a battle. The game came down to the final minute, but the Jayhawks came out with a 82-76 victory. The Thunderbirds took their second loss in their first five games, but showed what the team is capable of against a top team in the nation.
Thunderbirds versus Flames
The Thunderbirds started the game off strong with a 10-2 run led by senior forward Maizen Fausett’s five points. Bethesda rallied back and were within just four points after making the score 14-10.
Both battled back and forth as freshman center Parsa Fallah racked up six quick points off of layups. The Thunderbirds’ size was a problem for the Flames, and Fallah proved that by recording career highs with 14 points, nine rebounds and 18 minutes of play.
After an amazing 17-0 run, the Thunderbirds were up 55-28 with a couple minutes left in the first half. Freshman guard Martel Williams contributed five points to another 13-5 Thunderbird run as the team entered halftime up 68-33.
The second half was all SUU. The Thunderbirds continued to score in bunches and came out with a 59-point victory over the Flames, 126-67. The victory was capped off with a three-pointer from freshman guard Andrew Marshall, which were his first career points as a Thunderbird.
Williams set a career-high 15 points and eight rebounds in the matchup while shooting 64% from the field. Senior guard Dee Barnes also matched his career high of 16 points while only missing one shot in the contest. Jason Spurgin followed that with 16 points of his own as the sophomore center shot 80% from the field.
Thunderbirds versus Jayhawks
The Thunderbirds battled the Jayhawks, who are currently ranked sixth in the nation. It was a back and forth game for all 40 minutes with 22 lead changes between the teams.
Jones started the game strong with five points that led the Thunderbirds to a 7-2 run. Freshman forward Gradey Dick hit back-to-back threes for the Jayhawks during a 9-0 swing, putting them up 11-7.
Fausett followed that with two three-balls of his own, and Butler added in five points. The two combined helped push the Thunderbirds ahead 22-18 with 10 minutes left in the half.
Defense was key for the Thunderbirds, forcing 10 first half turnovers and only giving up five. Jones led all scorers in the first half with 15 points and had six rebounds. Butler also contributed eight points and Fausett followed with seven.
Jayhawk junior forward Jalen Wilson had 12 first half points, barely trailing Dick’s 13 points. Wilson’s last second jumper put the Jayhawks up 41-39 at the half.
In the first three minutes of the second half, Jones scored five quick points, but Wilson combatted that with four of his own. The teams continued to trade baskets, and after a layup from Fallah, the Thunderbirds led the Jayhawks 52-51 with 13 minutes left in the game.
Wilson helped the Jayhawks regain the lead 58-53 by scoring a layup followed by a three-pointer. After taking the lead, the Jayhawks did not give it back to the Thunderbirds.
Sophomore guard Drake Allen sparked a late surge for the Thunderbirds by making a tough layup. Jones followed that by attacking and getting to the free throw line twice in two positions, converting a big three-point play that put the Thunderbirds within one with under a minute left.
The Jayhawks fought back and finished the game on a 6-0 run, beating the Thunderbirds 82-76. Wilson finished with a game-high 33 points, which was followed by Dick’s 18 points and 67% from beyond the arc.
Jones led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 25 points, and Fausett followed with 14 points and nine rebounds while shooting 80% from three. Fallah played great minutes off of the bench, providing eight points and the same amount of rebounds in 13 minutes.
The team will have a week off before they head to Laie, Hawaii, for the North Shore Classic. Their first matchup will be Friday, Nov. 25, against Texas State University. The times are still to be determined.
Article by: Chevy Blackburn
Photos by: SUU Athletics