The Southern Utah University Thunderbirds have started Western Athletic Conference play red-hot with a six-game winning streak and look to continue the streak versus in-state rival the Utah Tech University Trailblazers.
A look at the Thunderbirds
Southern Utah enters Thursday’s conference matchup with a 9-7 overall record and a 5-0 conference record.
SUU has dominated on the defensive side of the ball, not allowing over 70 points per game and outscoring opponents 342-302 in WAC play. Along with being a great defensive team, the Thunderbirds have exceeded in the rebound battle. Southern Utah ranks in the top 30 nationally in both rebounds per game and defensive rebounds per game. Additionally, the Thunderbirds are tied at 36th in rebound margin at 7.4.
Graduate student Cherita Daugherty was named WAC Player of the Week and leads the Thunderbirds in scoring with an average of 15.7 per contest. Daugherty leads the team in free throw percentage at 82% overall on the season and 97% in conference play.
Daugherty has had amazing performances in the previous two games. She nearly had a triple-double against Utah Valley University, finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. In the second game, Daugherty matched her career-high 28 points versus Sam Houston State University and had an incredible performance from the free throw line, going 16-16.
“She knows it’s her last year here, and she doesn’t want to lose. She’s one of the best players in this conference if not the best player in this conference,” said head coach Tracy Sanders about Daughterty’s performance.
Junior Megan Jensen is 43rd in the nation in field goal percentage at 53.64%. Jensen’s 6.8 rebounds is second on the team.
Redshirt junior Lizzy Williamson has been a difference-maker on the glass for the Thunderbirds. Williamson is ranked in the top 20 nationally in blocks and blocks per game and sits in the top 30 in multiple rebound categories.
A look at the opponent
The Utah Tech Trailblazers enter the matchup with a 12-5 overall record and a 4-2 record in conference play. Utah Tech is currently on a three-game winning streak and is ranked fourth in the WAC standings.
The Trailblazers are led by two key scoring options in sophomore Macie Warren, who averages 18.9 per game, and senior Breaunna Gillen, who averages 18.8. Warren is tied for 31st in points per game while Gillen is ranked 33rd in the nation in points per game and 11th in assists and assists per game.
Senior Maggie McCord leads the team in rebounds with a total of 133 and averaging 7.8 per game.
The Thunderbirds have the all-time edge over the Trailblazers, leading the series 3-0. Last time out, the Thunderbirds won 76-61 against the Trailblazers in Cedar City on Dec. 29, 2022.
Southern Utah will face Utah Tech University on Thursday, Jan. 19, with tip-off at 7 p.m. The game will be held at Burns Arena and will be streamed on ESPN+.
Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photo courtesy of firstname.lastname@example.org