Lightning… eh… Thunder Strikes Twice!! Both Thunderbird Teams Advance
48 hours after SUU's women's basketball team pulled off a most impossible win over New Mexico State, the Thunderbird men, likewise stunned the UVU faithful with an improbable, come-from-23 points-behind victory over the conference champion Wolverines.
On Wednesday, SUU's women trailed New Mexico State by 5, with 8-seconds left in the game. An SUU 3-point play by Megan Jensen, and two missed New Mexico State free throws later--with the Aggies ahead 61-59, Cherita Daugherty hit an impossible, fall-away, over the shoulder shot from 3-point range as time expired, to lift the Thunderbirds on to the semifinals.
Friday, SUU's women defeated Grand Canyon University 64-51 to advance to Saturday's women's final match up with California Baptist University. Game time is 330p PST, at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Later Friday, SUU's men's team met conference regular-season champion Utah Valley. The Wolverines led at halftime 41-33. While the Wolverines came out of the break hot, SUU was flat--going over three minutes before scoring its first point of the second half, on a Jason Spurgen layup at the 16:59 mark. UVU raced out to seemingly insurmountable 56-35 lead.
Moments later, Utah Valley would achieve its largest lead of the game: 59-36 with 15:42 left, on a Trey Woodbury 3-point jumper. Woodbury would finish with a game-high 29 points.
With its confidence spilling over, the UVU student section began to chant, "Why so quiet?! Why so quiet?!" at a somber SUU student section.
But the Thunderbirds began a methodical comeback, trimming the Utah Valley lead to just 13 by the 10:46 mark, on a Maizen Faucett 3-point jumper.
With 4:47 left, a Dee Barnes steal and dunk cut UVU's lead to single digits at 79-71.
Down the home stretch, SUU continued to battle, aided by three different UVU players missing both free throws in the final 1:50 of the game, setting up the final play of the game.
With UVU leading 88-85, Tevian was hit a three point shot, and was fouled by Le'Tre Darthard. With the score tied at 88, Jones hit the free throw to put SUU ahead with just 4.3 seconds remaining. Justin Harmon's layup try rimmed out at the buzzer to give SUU an 89-88 win.
A tweet by play-by-play announcer Jack Benjamin put things in perspective for both the SUU women's win on Wednesday and men's win on Friday. Using game analytics and winning probability, SUU's women had a 0.01% chance of winning on Wednesday--down 61-56 with 8 seconds left; SUU's men stood a 0.6% chance of winning, down 59-36 with 15:42 left to play.
The win over UVU sends the T-Birds to the final versus Grand Canyon U on Saturday (830p PST). The game can be heard on 107.7FM / 590AM KSUB, the home of the Thunderbirds.
(Story image: Courtesy suutbirds.com)