By: Keller Sherman
Featured Image Courtesy of Utah Valley Athletics
LAS VEGAS — Tevian Jones hit a four-point play with four seconds to go. His tying three-point shot withstood a review as he was fouled. That sent him to the free-throw line for one shot and he made it. Utah Valley’s ensuing shot rolled off the rim and the Thunderbirds had done it. Down 23 points with 15:40 to go and 10 points with 3:58 remaining, Southern Utah pulled off the improbable. Jones’s four-point play turned out to be his “One Shining Moment” as it capped off an incredible Thunderbird comeback. With it, SUU advances to the WAC Championship Game in its first year in the conference.
How It Happened
There were a lot of similarities between SUU’s quarterfinal and semifinal games. Both were against in-state rivals and won by one point. Another similarity is that the Thunderbirds overcame a massive performance from an opponent’s star player. SUU won in spite of Cameron Gooden’s 35 points for Utah Tech on Thursday and in this game, Trey Woodbury’s 29. No Thunderbird came close to those numbers, but Tevian Jones led the way with 20. Right behind him was Harrison Butler with 19 points followed by Jason Spurgin’s 15. Cameron Healy came off the bench for 14 in the crazy comeback.
Two Games, Two Rivals, Two Points
While a game with Utah Valley in the semifinals seemed imminent when the bracket came out, few expected Utah Tech to await in the quarterfinals. That came to fruition when the Trailblazers stunned Stephen F Austin in overtime in the first round of the WAC tourney. Many would have also expected a much more comfortable win from the Thunderbirds than what happened as well. Nonetheless, few could have expected SUU’s path to the WAC Championship Game to run through both of its in-state conference rivals. After one-point wins in both games so far in Vegas, can everything come together for the tournament title Saturday night?
Grand Canyon upset Sam Houston in the other WAC semifinal in a heavily pro-GCU crowd. The GCU Havocs can be expected to be wrecking even more on Saturday night as the Lopes seek a second NCAA tournament trip in three years. The Thunderbirds come in looking for their first appearance in the Big Dance since 2001 and the second in program history. Students will receive a limited allotment of free tickets to the game which tips off at 8:30 PM Pacific Time. Also of note is that the Thunderbirds will be looking to avenge their only home conference loss of the season. GCU defeated SUU 83-78 in Cedar City 10 days ago.