Featured image courtesy Seth Whitehouse/SUU Athletics
BOULDER, Colo. — The Southern Utah University Thunderbirds are gearing up for their second game against a Pac-12 opponent on the season. They will travel to Boulder to take on the Colorado Buffaloes for this tilt. SUU’s other game against a Pac-12 opponent came on November 21st. In that contest, SUU fought to the end in a 54-66 setback to the Oregon Ducks. After the game against Colorado, one more Pac-12 opponent looms on the schedule. The Thunderbirds will travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes on December 21st in their final non-conference game of the season.
Last Time Out
In their previous game, SUU fell to former Big Sky Conference opponent Northern Arizona 65-76. It will take an all-around effort for this upset to happen. The Thunderbirds will need to play by far the best game of their season. Colorado is 4-0 at the CU Events Center in the young season. In the Buffaloes’ last outing, they bested Boise State 71-48 to improve to 7-2 on the year.
Three Point Woes
Lizzy Williamson, Cherita Daugherty, and Daylani Ballena are the top three scorers for SUU this season. A career night will be demanded from all three, especially with Williamson. Her 64 defensive rebounds are nearly double that of her next closest teammates in that category where Daugherty and Megan Jensen have 35 apiece. Shots will also need to go in from three-point range. The Thunderbirds have shot .297% this season in that category.
The best three-point shooters for the Thunderbirds are Ballena and Samantha Johnston and even then, not even half of their three-point attempts succeed as both players are shooting in the .400 range. The Buffaloes on the other hand have two players shooting above .500 from the three-point line in Quay Miller and Jaylyn Sherrod.
How the Upset Can Happen
The free throw line is where SUU might match up best with Colorado. They are shooting .697 from the charity stripe while their opponent is making .725% of those shots. The Thunderbirds’ best free throw shooter, Ballena is shooting .875%. However, the Buffaloes have three players of their own shooting better than .800 in that category. In addition, there are three additional players shooting above the team average from the line.
It will take a defensive game for the ages if SUU to pull this off. The Thunderbirds have shown that they can hang with some of the top teams in the country. Facing a 33-59 at the end of the 3rd quarter in the game against the Ducks, the Thunderbirds showed no quit turning in a massive 4th quarter outscoring the Ducks 21-7. If that kind of performance can be put together for a full four quarters, SUU will have a great shot at the upset.