Thunderbirds’ Outstanding Defense Leads To Victory Against Second-Ranked Tarleton State
Southern Utah University's men's basketball team secured their second conference victory of the season with a hard-fought 73-70 win over the second-ranked Tarleton State Texans in Stephenville. The Thunderbirds, now 2-6 in conference play and 7-12 overall, showcased impressive defense, holding the Texans to 27 points in the first half.
Head Coach Rob Jeter emphasized the significance of the win, stating, "This was a big one. We played some unbelievable defense in the first half, holding them to 27 points, and got stops when we needed to down the stretch."
In a closely contested game, the Thunderbirds led by as much as 12 in the second half. Despite the Texans cutting the lead to one point multiple times in the final six minutes, Southern Utah University never relinquished their lead. Clutch free throws by Zion Young with 10 seconds left sealed the victory at 73-70.
Statistically, Jamari Sibley delivered a standout performance, scoring a career-high 21 points on 8-12 shooting from the field and 3-3 from beyond the arc. Dominique Ford, playing at an all-conference caliber level, contributed a game-high 23 points, including crucial baskets, and went 10-14 from the free-throw line.
Brock Felder, making his first start in place of an injured Parsa Fallah, made an impact with eight points, two rebounds, and two crucial blocked shots. Braden Housley struggled offensively but played a vital role in other aspects, grabbing three rebounds, dishing out a team-high five assists, and making defensive contributions.
Despite losing the rebounding battle by 13, Southern Utah University shot 51% from the field and 33% from three, while limiting the Texans to 42% shooting from the field and a mere 15% from three.
Coach Jeter highlighted the team's growth, stating, "We battled out there. I can see it out on the floor that our guys are learning from many of our close losses. Making smarter plays in the clutch minutes and doing what needs to be done defensively to get league wins."
Looking ahead, the Thunderbirds will face the Abilene Christian Wildcats in Abilene, Texas, on Saturday, January 27, with a scheduled 2 p.m. tipoff, though potential changes might occur due to flooding in ACU's facility.