This week the Southern Utah University men’s basketball team picked up two more conference wins. On Jan. 12, they defeated the Sam Houston State Bearkats 86-74, and on Jan. 14, they beat the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks with a score of 67-58. The Thunderbirds’ record is now 13-6, and they are 5-1 in Western Athletic Conference play.
Versus Sam Houston
In a match between Sam Houston’s No. 1 WAC defense and Southern Utah’s No. 1 WAC offense, offense won out. The Bearkats gave up 86 points to the Thunderbirds, the most they have allowed all season. SUU had control almost the entire game, leading by as many as 16 points in the first half. In the second half, Sam Houston managed to cut their deficit down to just four points in the final 12 minutes but ultimately could not catch up to SUU.
Fifth-year players Maizen Fausett and Tevian Jones each scored over 20 points in the win. Fausett’s 22-point game was his personal best for the season so far. He went 5 for 5 from behind the arc, setting his career record for most three-point shots in a single game. With 17 points, fifth-year guard Dee Barnes was also a top scorer and was just three rebounds shy of a double-double. As a team, the Thunderbirds shot 55.6% from the field and 54.2% from three-point range.
Thirteen total players touched the court for the Bearkats, and three of them came away with double-digit points. Qua Grant, Donte Powers and Cameron Huefner scored 17, 14 and 12 points, respectively. Sam Houston ended the game with a 48.3% field goal percentage and a 52.9% three-point percentage.
The Bearkats have since taken a win against Utah Tech University, and their overall record now stands at 13-5 with a 3-3 WAC record.
Versus Stephen F. Austin
The Lumberjacks had a 15-game conference winning streak before falling to the Thunderbirds on Saturday afternoon. SUU had the lead almost the entire first half, but SFA kept it close the whole time, and the score was 31-29 heading into halftime. The first 10 minutes of the second half were back and forth with six lead changes. SUU then put their feet on the gas and never looked back, earning their 13th win on the season. The 67-58 game was Southern Utah’s lowest-scoring win on the year.
Fausett led the Thunderbirds in scoring once again with 19 points. Accompanied with 10 rebounds, Fausett earned his third double-double of the season. Sophomore center Jason Spurgin shot 100% from the field and contributed 15 points of his own, while sophomore guard Drake Allen helped them out with seven assists. Collectively, SUU had a 49% field goal percentage and a 32% three-point percentage in the game.
AJ Cajuste was the Lumberjacks’ top scorer with 11 points, and Sadaidriene Hall led the team in rebounds with eight. Though the game was less than notable for SFA, they did force SUU into 20 turnovers, the second most the Thunderbirds have given up in a single game this season. They only turned into 14 Lumberjack points, however, and were not enough to bring the Thunderbirds down.
This was Southern Utah’s third straight victory over Stephen F. Austin, dating back three decades. The Lumberjacks now have a 13-6 overall record and a 5-1 conference record.
Southern Utah has one game left in this homestand before hitting the road again. On Thursday, Jan. 19, they will take on the Aggies of New Mexico State in the America First Event Center at 7 p.m. MST. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.
Story and photos by: Anden Garfield