Thunderbirds Doomed By Slow Start, Fall In Basketball Classic Semifinals

Mar 28, 2022, 9:44 PM
Southern Utah Thunderbirds Men's Basketball...
(Courtesy of Southern Utah Athletics)
(Courtesy of Southern Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – Southern Utah couldn’t buy a first half basket and Fresno State dominates for the 67-48 win in the Basketball Classic Semifinals.

The Bulldogs (22-13) hosted Southern Utah (23-12) at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California on Monday, March 28.

The Thunderbirds advance to the Classic Four Championship where they will take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in Conway, South Carolina on Thursday, March 31.

First Half

Fresno State struck first, taking a 6-0 lead before Southern Utah hit a shot. The Thunderbirds went into the under-16 timeout trailing 6-2.

Out of the timeout, Maizen Fausett, who missed much of Saturday night’s win, cut the lead to one with a top of the key three.

After SUU tied the game with a free throw, the Bulldogs started to run the basketball and hit a pair of three’s to once against enjoy a six point lead. Defensively, a swarming Fresno State perimeter defense and the rim protection of Braxton Meah held the Thunderbirds to 2-11 shooting in the opening 9:10.

Southern Utah went into and extended drought, going scoreless for 7:54. A time in which the Bulldogs enjoyed a 14-0 run.

A painstakingly deliberate SUU offense looked uncomfortable facing the great athletes from Fresno State’s sixth in the Mountain West program.The Thunderbirds were unable to find any semblance of offensive rhythm in the first twenty minutes.

Jordan Campbell gave Southern Utah fits on both ends as he finished the half with 11 points, four rebounds and a block while locking up John Knight III on defense.

Fresno State outscored SUU 28-10 over the final 14:54 of the half to take a 34-16 halftime lead.

Second Half

The Thunderbirds couldn’t force enough stops to facilitate even the dream of a second half comeback as Fresno State produced in transition and the half court, seemingly never getting out of what they wanted to do.

The Bulldogs took their largest lead of the game, a 25-point advantage into the under-12 timeout.

Playing without leading scorer Tevian Jones may have finally caught up with the Thunderbirds as they shot under 30 percent for the game and struggled against the obviously more athletic Bulldogs.

Fausett led the Tbunderbirds with nine points. Orlando Robinson’s 20 points led all scorers.

The Bulldogs advance to play the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers on Thursday, March 31.

About The Basketball Classic

This is the first postseason with The Basketball Classic. It was created in 2022 as the successor to the Postseason Tournament. The Basketball Classic will have 32 NCAA Division I teams participate that were not selected to play in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT. The tourney uses the old NIT model, and matchups will be set after each round.

The Basketball Classic was founded by to replace the postseason tournament, which was discontinued after the 2020 and 2021 tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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