By: Keller Sherman
LAS VEGAS — Magic does not come in unlimited supply. Both the men’s and women’s teams for Southern Utah had plenty of magic during their time in Sin City. Cherita Daugherty’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to get past New Mexico State in the women’s quarterfinals. Holding off an upset-minded Utah Tech team in the men’s quarterfinals. A twenty-three-point comeback to knock off a second in-state rival in as many days in Utah Valley. The women won a WAC championship in year one as members of the conference. Last but not least was having both the men’s and women’s teams in the WAC Tournament final. Unfortunately, the biggest day in SUU Athletics history failed to write a satisfying final chapter.
Scorched from the Desert
The Thunderbirds made it here despite allowing an opposing player to score twenty-nine or more points individually. SUU gave up thirty-five to Utah Tech’s Cameron Gooden in the quarterfinals. Trey Woodbury went for twenty-nine in the semifinal against UVU. Rayshon Harrison, the player that torched the Thunderbirds just over a week ago in SUU’s only home conference loss of the season had thirty-one here. Gabe McGlothan also helped out with twenty-one points. The biggest difference in this game was easy to see. The Lopes made it rain from three-point range shooting 65% from distance. The Thunderbirds were a lowly 34.8% from beyond the arc. It was a red-hot shooting night for GCU as a whole while SUU shot ice-cold.
A Moral Victory
Grand Canyon may have had a pseudo-home game Saturday night, but SUU fans certainly did their part to show out too. Lope fans have made a habit out of transforming Orleans Arena into GCU Arena North during the WAC Tournament. Even with that, several SUU students, even more than what was present for the women’s title game showed up. The popular on-campus event Casino Night may have been happening back home, but students still showed up in droves. They made the 2.5-hour drive from Cedar City in whatever way possible. That catapulted SUU to its only victory of the night as the SUU Thunder Crew somehow managed to outnumber the GCU Havocs. The Lopes certainly had more fans in the house overall, but the Thunderbirds pulled off a major upset in the stands with a shocking victory in the student section battle.
Postseason Basketball Loading…
It will not be the big dance as the Thunderbirds had hoped. It won’t be the NIT either, but rather, another little dance known as the College Basketball Invitational. SUU secured a four-seed in this pay-for-play postseason tournament and heads to the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. They will face thirteenth-seeded North Alabama on Saturday with tip-off set for 10:00 AM Mountain time.