Featured Image Courtesy of Utah Tech Athletics
ST GEORGE, Utah — If there was any question about whether or not this was a big rivalry, that was put to rest after Saturday night. In a packed Burns Arena, it was Trailblazers that were in firm control from start to finish. One might call this game the Super Bowl for Utah Tech. The Trailblazers jumped on Southern Utah early, leading by as much as 22. However, that lead dwindled to just five points early on in the second half. SUU fought back in the 2nd half, but the Trailblazers kept their opponent at arm’s reach. Utah Tech’s lead was never trimmed below 5 points. Every time SUU threatened to go on a run to narrow the gap further and go for taking the lead, Utah Tech fired right back.
How It Happened
Cameron Gooden played arguably his best game of the season scoring 26 points for the Trailblazers. Not far behind him was Tanner Christensen who had a 21-point performance. The Thunderbirds won the second half 49-39 and won the rebounding battle 35-32, but fell into too big of a hole with a sloppy first half. Maizen Fausett led the scoring for SUU with 21 points. Drake Allen had 13 while Cameron Healy came off the bench for 12. Jason Spurgin had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Utah Tech kept Tevian Jones in check all game only allowing 10 points from the dynamic scorer.
SUU never led at any point in this game. Two big scoring runs by Utah Tech might have been the difference in this one. Leading 12-10, the Trailblazers used a 12-0 run to make it a 24-10 game. Allen put an end to that run with a three-point jumper. SUU then used a 9-4 run to get back within single digits, only for a 13-0 Utah Tech run to make it a 41-19 deficit. A 15-0 Thunderbird run caused some feelings of unease in Burns Arena. However, Gooden or Christensen always gave Utah Tech a cushion when it needed it. The game was largely a back-and-forth affair for most of the 2nd half, but the damage had already been done. Even SUU’s high-scoring offense could not fully get the Thunderbirds back in this one. The defense could not get stops when it mattered most.
Scoring History Made
Spurgin’s double-double, the rebounding advantage, and Fausett’s performance. These were all highlights of a gloomy evening in St George. The biggest one came when Fausett’s 21-point game helped him to pass the 1400 career point mark. He now sits just 27 points away from passing Dre Marin for third place on the all-time scoring leaderboard for the Thunderbirds.
Thirteen Days Away
Todd Simon fell to 0-2 against SUU’s heated rival 45 minutes down I-15. However, he is also 2-0 against the Trailblazers in Cedar City. It won’t be long before an opportunity for revenge comes. If last year was any indication, the Thunderbirds should be more than ready for that one. The two rivals will battle yet again at the America First Event Center on February 17th. Expect an electric environment in the AFEC for that one as was on display at Burns Arena Saturday night. First, the Thunderbirds have a couple of big games ahead of them.
SUU will play the role of both the hunter and the hunted in next week’s games. First is a visit from Tarleton State on Thursday. The Thunderbirds will seek to avenge a 68-65 loss from when the two teams met in Stephenville, Texas last month. That is followed by a trip up north to Orem for the rematch with Utah Valley. The Wolverines will seek vengeance for the 79-67 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Thunderbirds about a week and a half ago.