But thanks to Randy Onwuasor, SUU proved the postseason can truly be a new beginning.
Onwuasor set a career high and new Big Sky tournament record with 43 points to carry the T-Birds, the No. 11 seed, to a 109-105 win in triple overtime over the No. 6 seed Montana State Bobcats on March 7.
It was only SUU’s sixth win of the season and first Big Sky tournament win, but easily the most gratifying one for Onwuasor and the rest of the team.
“We came into this game knowing we were supposed to win,” Onwuasor said in the school’s release. “We weren't hoping to win.”
Things looked bleak for the T-Birds as they fell behind 42-29 at the half, but they pulled even at 49-49 early in the second half to set the stage for a battle that continued deep into the night back home.
SUU had a chance to win in regulation when James McGee, who finished with 16 points, got fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with nine seconds left. McGee missed the first, but made the next two to tie the score at 78-78.
When MSU’s Tyler Hall, who had 32 points, missed a 3-pointer at the horn, the fight to the finish was on.
Montana State took a 101-95 lead early in the second overtime with two 3-pointers from Hall and a pair of free throws from freshman Harald Frey, but SUU held the Bobcats off the board over the final three minutes and forced a third overtime tied at 101-101.
Both sides couldn’t find the range early, but when Will Joyce made a free throw and a layup, it gave SUU the lead for good. The victory was the T-Birds’ first in the postseason since they defeated Oakland in the opening round of the Summit League tournament in 2012.
SUU saw its season come to an end two nights later as Weber State led wire-to-wire in a 90-70 win that advanced the No. 3 seed to the semifinals. Four Wildcat players scored in double figures, led by 24 points from Jeremy Senglin.
Onwuasor led the T-Birds with 29 points and McGee added 20 in the loss, as they finished with a 6-27 overall record.