The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team went 1-1 on their road trip after beating the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 84-55 and falling to the University of Texas Arlington 60-58. Southern Utah is now 13-8 overall and 9-1 in Western Athletic Conference play. They remain the No. 1 team in the conference.
The Thunderbirds earned one of their best wins of the season on Saturday, Feb. 4, against the Vaqueros. Their 84 points as a team made it their third highest-scoring game of the year. It took just four minutes for the Thunderbirds to take the lead and gain firm control. After that, they never looked back. They entered halftime with a nine-point lead, then jumped into double digits as the third quarter began. They led by at least 11 points for the remainder of the game.
Southern Utah’s top scorer was Megan Jensen with 21 points, just one short of her season high. She shot 80% from the field and made all five of her free throw attempts. Four other Thunderbirds also hit double digits, including Tomekia Whitman, Samantha Johnston, Lizzy Williamson, and Cherita Daugherty. Daylani Ballena set them up with her seven assists. Whitman, a guard, led the team in rebounds with six. As a team, SUU had a 61.1% field goal percentage and a 46.2% three-point percentage.
The Vaqueros were led by Halie Jones, who tied her season-high with 16 points. Her scoring included four three-pointers, also a season high. Charlotte O’Keefe followed closely behind with 14 points. UTRGV gave up 18 turnovers, allowing SUU to score 26 points off of them. The Vaqueros shot 32.8% from the field and 41.2% from three-point range.
Following the loss, UTRGV is now 8-13 overall and 2-8 in conference play. They are 11th of the 13 teams in the WAC.
Versus UT Arlington
Southern Utah took their first WAC loss of the season against the Mavericks on Monday, Feb. 6. Despite the outcome being so close, the game only saw one lead change before the fourth quarter. The Thunderbirds had the upper hand in the game until there were about eight minutes remaining. It was back and forth at that point, and with the game tied and one second left on the clock, the Mavericks’ Starr Jacobs made the game-winning layup. The teams each made 22 field goals, including three from the three-point line. The difference was UTA’s 13 free throws to SUU’s 11. They also tied when it came to overall rebounds with 40 apiece.
Daugherty led the Thunderbird offense with her sixth 20-point game of the season. She collected six rebounds as well. Johnston and Whitman both hit double digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively. As the tallest player on either team, Williamson used her height to her advantage by earning 12 rebounds and six blocks, her career high for blocks in a single game. She was just two points shy of her eighth double-double on the season. Overall, Southern Utah shot 37.3% from the field and 37.5% from beyond the arc. They also had a free throw percentage of 91.7%.
The game’s top scorer was UTA’s Kayla White, who put up 22 points and was 9 for 19 from the field. Jacobs was second for the Mavericks with 15 and was followed closely by Taleyah Jones with 14. Jacobs also chased down 13 rebounds to earn her seventh double-double of the season. The Mavericks shot 36.1% as a team and had a 33.3% three-point percentage.
UT Arlington improved to 10-13 overall and 4-7 in WAC play. They are ranked ninth in the conference.
The Thunderbirds’ next game will take place in the America First Event Center against New Mexico State University. It will be on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m. MST. It can be streamed on ESPN+ or on Thunder 91.1 KSUU-FM.
Story and photos by: Anden Garfield