By: Keller Sherman
Featured Image Courtesy of New Mexico State Athletics
CEDAR CITY, Utah — Facing a 37-24 deficit at halftime, it looked like Southern Utah had come crashing down to earth following a 9-0 start to WAC play. There was the loss at UT-Arlington on Monday at the buzzer and for a while, New Mexico State seemed to have a mental stranglehold on the Thunderbirds. However, the Aggies failed to recognize one crucial factor. Time and time again this season, the Thunderbirds have shown to be a 2nd half-team. This is especially true in the 4th quarter in which SUU routinely outscores its opponents.
Don’t Call It a Comeback
ESPN’s win probability machine gave NMSU as high as an 87.1% chance to win this game. This came as the Aggies were up 48-37 with 2:30 to go in the 3rd quarter. A 14-3 run from that point on gave SUU its first lead of the game with 4:51 to go 51-49. Fourty-one seconds later, the Thunderbirds had the lead for good. Once Alexa Lord had another huge basket to make it 53-51 Thunderbirds, they never trailed again. SUU outscored NMSU 20-8 in the final frame. Traditionally the best quarter for the Thunderbirds, there could not have been a better time for SUU to turn in a performance like that.
Cherita Daugherty continued to be on fire offensively with 28 points in this game. Lizzy Willamson was also one of the highlights of the night recording her eighth double-double of the season. Alexa Lord came off the bench for 6 points, but 4 of those may have been the biggest all night for SUU. Her baskets gave the Thunderbirds both their first lead of the game and helped them take the lead for good.
Retro Jersey Magic
While the comeback was by far the biggest story of the game, it also marked the debut of new jerseys. The retro jerseys pay homage to SUU’s days as the College of Southern Utah and the former school colors of turquoise and orange made their debut on the women’s side Thursday. The men wore these jerseys once last year and brought them back for their game later on Thursday night. In an eerily similar fashion to this game, they pulled off a comeback of their own. Perhaps there is some magic associated with these old-school uniforms.
SUU will look to go 4-0 on the season against in-state conference rivals on Saturday afternoon. They head up north to Orem to face Utah Valley in a 1:00 PM tipoff. The two rivals played a classic at the America First Event Center last month as the Thunderbirds took a 70-66 decision. It will be the first game of a doubleheader in which the men face the Wolverines that same night at the UCCU Center.