Thunderbirds dominate La Sierra University Eagles in the America First Event Center

A career-high 30-point double-double from Alexa Lord and a dominant second half lifted the Southern Utah University women’s basketball team over the La Sierra University Eagles 77-44. Saturday’s win in the America First Event Center improves the Thunderbirds to 4-6 this season. 

I was a little disappointed with how we started the game. We gave up a lot of points in the first quarter, but I thought we buckled down and played very well in the last three quarters,” said SUU head coach Tracy Sanders. “I’m proud of this group, and I think there’s some great stuff we can take away from this game. We will celebrate this win and then start to move on to next week against Utah.”

In the first double-double of her career, Lord shot 11-17 from the floor with 10 rebounds and three assists. Megan Jensen added a massive double-double, scoring 13 points and 10 rebounds. Chipping in offensively, Samantha Johnston finished with nine points and four assists while Daylani Ballena racked up eight points. Lizzy Williamson also finished with a game-high three blocks. 

The Thunderbirds controlled several areas of the game, outshooting the Eagles from the field 42.3% to 28% while continuing to dominate the boards, racking up 48 total rebounds to La Sierra’s 29. Southern Utah also commanded the paint, scoring 36 points compared to the Eagles’ 10. 

First half

The Thunderbirds got off to a slow start as the Eagles jumped out to a 14-5 lead heading into the first media timeout. SUU’s offense fought back with Johnston, Ballena and Lord all knocking down threes to tie the game 18-18 with 1:50 left. Ballena closed out the quarter by splashing a layup and another three to give the Thunderbirds the 23-20.  

Coming out of the quarter, Lord started to catch fire, drilling a corner three and a short jumper in their first two possessions. The Thunderbirds locked down defensively, forcing seven second-quarter turnovers that sparked an 11-3 run. Jensen capped off the run with two buckets that put Southern Utah up at the half 37-23. 

Second half

The second half began with two tough back-to-back layups in the paint from Williamson and Jensen. After the Eagles hit two mid-range jumpers to cut the deficit to 43-30, Lord took over, scoring nine points to close out the quarter and putting the Thunderbirds up 59-36 heading into the fourth.

Lord remained the hot hand in the final quarter, getting to the rim at will. She scored eight of her 13 total fourth-quarter points in the paint, helping the Thunderbirds cruise to a 77-44 victory. 

Up next

Southern Utah will now hit the road for another difficult non-conference test as they face off against the No. 13 Utah Utes on Dec. 22. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. MST at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. 

Article by: Chevy Blackburn

Photos by: SUU Athletics