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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL FALLS TO SOUTHERN UTAH
CEDAR CITY, Utah -- Five Southern Utah players scored in double figures, led by John Clifford’s 14 points and 13 rebounds, as the Thunderbirds defeated Sacramento State, 76-51, in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday evening at the Centrum Arena.
The two teams exchanged leads five times during the first 10 minutes of the game, before Southern Utah went on a 30-12 run over the final 10:08 of the first half to take a commanding 44-25 halftime lead. The Thunderbirds, who led by double figures during the final 27:16 of the contest, opened up a lead as large as 29 points late in the second half.
Southern Utah shot 52.0 percent (26-50) from the field and attempted 18 more free throws than the Hornets (18-for-29, 62.1 percent). In fact, Sacramento State was whistled for 24 fouls compared to just 14 fouls called on Southern Utah.
With the victory, the Thunderbirds improved to 4-9 overall, including a 4-3 mark on their home floor. In addition, Southern Utah is now 13-6 all-time against Sacramento State, including a 9-1 mark in Cedar City. The Hornets’ only victory on Southern Utah’s home floor came during the 2005-06 season.
Sacramento State dropped to 1-11 with the loss and dropped its sixth straight game in the process.
The Hornets shot 42.6 percent (20-47) from the field and 90.9 percent (10-11) from the free throw line, but had trouble from beyond the three-point line where the team converted on just 1-of-11 attempts. That one three-pointer (made by Antonio Flaggs) gave the Hornets at least one three-pointer made in 416 consecutive games dating back to 1993.
Joining Clifford in double figures for Southern Utah was Tyler Quinney (16 points, eight rebounds), Dave Marek (13), Davis Baker (13) and Cory Davis (11 points, game-high nine assists). Four of the Thunderbirds’ five starters scored in double figures, and only one of those starters (Quinney, 4-of-9) shot lower than 50 percent from the field. Southern Utah also outrebounded Sacramento State, 34-26, as Quinney and Clifford combined for 21 of those 34 rebounds. Quinney, Clifford and Marek all played at least 35 minutes.
Junior Justin Eller led the Hornets with 13 points, as the center went 5-of-7 from the field while adding five rebounds and two assists. Senior center Randy Adams narrowly missed his first career double-double as the 6-8, 220-pounder finished with 10 points (4-of-7 shooting from the field, 2-of-2 from the free throw line) and nine rebounds. The nine rebounds matched a career high, as Adams is now averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds over his last four games.
Flaggs added seven points in a team-high 31 minutes, while no other Hornet finished with more than six points. The team’s leading scorer, Loren Leath, was limited to just six points, and failed to connect on a three-pointer for the first time in 13 games.
All 14 healthy Sacramento State players appeared in tonight’s contest, including junior forward Alex Ward, who made his first appearance of the season after missing the first 11 games.
The Hornets will play their final non-conference game of the season on Tuesday, Dec. 30, when the team welcomes Pacific to the Nest for a game at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday is the first of three home games Sacramento State will play next week as the team jumps into Big Sky Conference play when it hosts both Portland State (Friday, Jan. 2, 7:05 p.m.) and Eastern Washington (Sunday, Jan. 4, 2:05 p.m.).
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