Southern Utah Outlasts Vaqueros In WAC Overtime Thriller

Dec 31, 2022, 3:33 PM
Southern Utah Thunderbirds guard Harrison Butler (Courtesy of SUU Athletics)
(Courtesy of SUU Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Thunderbirds improved to 2-0 in WAC play, doing just enough to pull away from UTRGV in overtime for a 94-88 win.

The Thunderbirds (10-5, 2-0) hosted the Vaqueros of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (8-6, 0-2) at the America First Event Center on Saturday, December 31.

Southern Utah opened WAC play with a 79-75 win over New Mexico State earlier this week.

The Vaqueros fell in their last game, 81-66 at Utah Tech.

RELATED: Southern Utah Tops New Mexico State In WAC Opener

Tevian Jones’ 22 points led six Thunderbirds in double-figures. Jason Spurgin finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Maizen Fausett had a double-douoble, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.

Will Johnston scored a career-high 31 for the Vaqueros. Justin Johnson added 25 points in the loss.

First Half

The game opened with a three point barrage as Tevian Jones hit a pair for the Thunderbirds, sandwiched around a Vaquero triple from Sherman Brashear.

From there, these programs battled in a back and forth affair that featured six ties and four lead changes in the opening eight minutes.

Midway through the half UTRGV pulled ahead by five on a Will Johnston layup.

RELATED: Southern Utah Comes Up Short Against Colorado

That lead grew to 12 with 7:20 left in the half, 34-22.

Southern Utah then used a 9-0 run to get back in the game. Martell Williams scored five of the nine for the Thunderbirds during the stretch.

Texas-Rio Grande Valley would take a four point lead into the half.

Second Half

The Thunderbirds fell behind by five early in the half but it didn’t slow them down.

Drake Allen and Dee Barnes combined to spur a run with Southern Utah ultimately tying the game at 48.

With their defense leading the way, SUU built a 57-50 lead with 11:45 remaining.

RELATED: Southern Utah Gets Past Northern Arizona In Overtime At Home

The Vaqueros weren’t to be thwarted as they mounted another run, eventually tying the game at 63.

Neither team would lead by more than four for the remainder of regulation with the tight battle going to overtime, knotted up at 79.


Both teams struggled to find any rhythm in a whistle-filled overtime period. Free throws marked the only scoring in the first two minutes of overtime with the game tied at 82 and less than three minutes remaining.

The Thunderbirds scored the first bucket of overtime when they forced a turnover and Dee Barnes turned it into a layup on the other end, giving SUU an 84-82 lead.

Southern Utah’s defense took over from there as the Thunderbirds pulled away for the 98-88 victory.

Up Next

Southern Utah will begin 2023 on the road against Tarleton State on Thursday, January 5 at 6:00 p.m. MT and will finish the week on the road against Abilene Christian on Saturday, January 7 at 5:00 p.m. MT.

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Southern Utah Outlasts Vaqueros In WAC Overtime Thriller