T-Birds drop Spartans in hoop home opener


From SUU ATHLETICS STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION

CEDAR CITY- In their home opener, the Thunderbird men’s basketball team picked up a victory Wednesday night over the San Jose State Spartans out of the Mountain West Conference 81-69.

“Incredibly proud of the guys,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “We’re starting to see the fruits of their labor … and we showed a lot of maturity where we led the game from beginning to end for the most part.”

The Thunderbirds are now 1-2 on the season, while the Spartans moved to the same record after coming in the game 1-1.

Brandon Better was the story of the opening half for the Thunderbirds. He scored 15 points in 11 minutes of play, shooting 4-of-7 from behind the three-point line.

The Thunderbirds led the majority of the time in the opening half, and were able to create some separation around the six minute mark as they capped off a 8-0 run to go up 23-12. For a time, Better himself was outscoring the Spartans at 15-14.

The T-Birds went into the break with a 32-20 advantage, draining five threes in the opening frame.

“I just saw that we were playing off our defense, and we were getting a lot of steals getting into passing lanes and my teammates were really moving the ball so we got open shots, and I felt really good stepping in and making those shots,” Better said.

The Spartans started hot in the second half, hitting their first five field goals. The Thunderbirds were able to keep pace though, not letting their lead dip under 10 until there was 13 minutes left in the contest.

However, the Thunderbirds never let the Spartans get closer than eight in the second half, and picked up a 81-69 victory at home.

This was Southern Utah’s first victory over a Mountain West Conference opponent since they knocked off the University of Utah in 2006.

Jadon Cohee ended up leading the Thunderbirds in scoring, dropping in 19 on Thursday night. Cohee and Dre Marin combined for 11 assists and only three turnovers.

“It feels good man, honestly,” Cohee said post game. “We had a couple tough ones against two really good teams, but Brandon came out in the opening half and starting hooping and brought our whole team energy up, and then we finished it.”

Christian Musoko finished with 10 points for the Thunderbirds, while both Jamil Jackson and Marin dropped in eight.

“It was truly a team effort,” Simon said. “A lot of guys stepped up that we needed.”

Ryan Welage led the Spartans in scoring with 21.

Next up for the Thunderbirds will be another home contest against Benedictine at Mesa. That game will be played on November 21 at 8 p.m.

 

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