Thunderbirds Explode In Second Half, Beat Second In WAC Utah Valley

Jan 26, 2023, 8:59 PM | Updated: Jan 27, 2023, 10:05 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Tevian Jones took over late, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half as WAC newcomer Southern Utah proved they belong with a 79-67 win over Utah Valley.

The Thunderbirds (15-7, 7-2) played host the the Utah Valley Wolverines (16-6, 7-2) in a Western Athletic Conference showdown between the second place Wolverines and third place Thunderbirds on Thursday, January 26.

Southern Utah saw a four game winning streak end when they dropped a road contest against Seattle 81-60 on January 21.

The Wolverines came in riding a two-game winning streak after beating Abilene Christian at home and Grand Canyon on the road last week.

Three other T-Birds scored in double-figures behind Jones led by Drake Allen’s 17. Maizen Fausett added 15 and Harrison Butler chipped in 14 points in the win.

Justin Harmon led the Wolverines with 16 points in the loss. Aziz Bandaogo scored 15 points but disappeared in the second half, scoring just two points after the break.

First Half

Tim Fuller and Aziz Bandaogo combined to score the first ten points for Utah Valley as they jumped out to a 10-6 lead in the opening minutes.

Despite the small lead, the Wolverines held their breath when Bandaogo, already with six points, went to the floor while grabbing at his right ankle. Bandaogo appeared to roll his ankle by stepping on a teammates foot. After a timeout, Bandaogo was able to return for UVU.

The Thunderbirds began the game with balanced scoring as Maizen Fausett, Harrison Butler and Drake Allen each scored four early points.

Trailing 17-16 near the ten minute mark, SUU had their first chance to take a lead. Instead, Parsa Fallah was whistled for a travel resulting in the Thunderbirds third turnover of the half.

UVU took advantage of the mistake, increasing their advantage to four on the other end with a Tim Ceasar three.

RELATED: Utah Valley Completes Second Half Comeback, Survive Frenzied Final Seconds In Phoenix

Still trailing by four, Jason Spurgin got the home crowd out of their seats when he fought through a pair of Wolverine defenders, drawing a foul and shouting loudly to the rafters. Spurgin hit bother free throws the make it 25-23 UVU with 5:58 left in the half.

A minute later, Harrison Butler knocked down a three to give the Thunderbirds their first lead.

Justin Harmon answered with a three of his own to retake the lead. UVU would go on a 5-0 run into the final media timeout to take a 30-26 lead with 4:08 left.

Out of the timeout, the run ballooned to 12-1 with Utah Valley getting to the basket and drawing fouls seemingly at will. They held a 39-34 lead at halftime.

Butler and Allen led SUU with eight points apiece. Bandaogo led all scorers with 13 points.

Second Half

After closing the half on a 5-0 run in the final minute, Southern Utah continued chipping away. Three minutes into the second half, Maizen Fausett tied it at 45 with three.

Battling basket for basket over the next seven minutes, neither team could cobble together an advantage until Spurgin went baseline for a dunk followed by Drake Allen drilling a three. Allen added a scoop and score layup that gave the Thunderbirds their largest lead of the night, 61-54 with 9:17 remaining.

SUU extended their advantage to nine with a 9-0 run that was part of a larger 14-2 spurt. The Thunderbirds looked like a different team than played in the first half.

RELATED: Southern Utah Sees Winning Streak Snapped At Seattle University

Tim Fuller briefly slowed the bleeding with a second chance tip-in but couldn’t stop it. Tevian Jones hit a pair of free throws and Allen scored his 17th point as Southern Utah increased their lead to 68-57 with 5:27 left.

With momentum already swinging the way of the T-Birds, UVU’s Blaze Nield got whistled for a technical foul, furthering the unraveling Utah Valley was suffering. Tevian Jones punctuated a three point possession by hitting the free throw and then a layup to go up 71-57.

Southern Utah would go on to match Utah Valley with a 7-2 WAC record thanks to a 79-67 win.

Up Next

The Wolverines return home where they will take on the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday, January 26. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (MST).

The Thunderbirds head out to Riverside, CA where they will the Lancers of California Baptist on Wednesday, February 1. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 8 p.m. (MST).

Southern Utah Thunderbirds

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Thunderbirds Explode In Second Half, Beat Second In WAC Utah Valley