Feature Image: Seth Whitehouse of Southern Utah Athletics
BOULDER, Colo. — Daylani Ballena nailed a free throw attempt halfway through the 1st quarter. That gave Southern Utah a 12-7 lead over Colorado. From that point forward, it was all Colorado. The Buffaloes closed the 1st period on a 13-4 run to take a 20-16 lead into the 2nd. Three Thunderbirds scored in double figures with only two points coming off the bench. SUU was able to take advantage of a slow start by Colorado but was ultimately worn down as the Buffaloes cruised for the remaining 30 minutes.
Even in what would be SUU’s best frame of the game, the Thunderbirds could not end it with a lead. SUU was able to keep the game within single digits all the way until the 2:48 mark in the 2nd. Here, Kindyll Wetta sunk a three-pointer to open an 11-point Colorado lead. This was a part of the 19-7 Buffaloes’ run to end the half from when SUU trailed 20-24 with 7:46 to go until the break. Facing a 27-43 deficit at the half, the Thunderbirds would have to up their game to get back into this thing.
Coming out of the break, SUU played much better. The defense held Colorado to under 20 points. However, the offense could only respond with 10 points of their own. As a result, the Thunderbirds could not capitalize on a golden opportunity to trim Colorado’s lead. A 16-point deficit grew to 20 points at the end of the 3rd frame. The Buffaloes would go on to win 78-48.
SUU was perfect from the free throw line making all nine attempts. Where this game was lost for the Thunderbirds was from a distance. Only 1 of 14 three-point attempts went for SUU with the one successful attempt coming when Ballena opened the scoring two minutes into the game. Colorado shot 11 for 25 or 44% from beyond the arc. Cold shooting in three-point range continues to doom the Thunderbirds and they needed to shoot exceptionally great in this category to have a shot at the upset. 15 turnovers, while a season-low for SUU, also contributed to the lopsided defeat.
The Thunderbirds will take the next nine days off before one final tune-up. NAIA member La Sierra will visit the America First Event Center on December 17th. SUU then travels to Salt Lake City for its third game against the Pac-12 when they take on Utah on December 21st. WAC play begins December 29th when Utah Tech makes the 45 minute drive up I-15 to Cedar City.