FARGO, N.D., Feb. 2 - Jackson Stevenett led Southern Utah
with 16 points and six rebounds but Southern Utah dug itself an early hole it
could never climb out of it in suffering a 85-64 Summit League loss at North
Dakota State Thursday night.
With the loss SUU dipped to 7-6 in league games (12-11
overall) and missed an opportunity to move past the Bison and into third place
in the conference, instead falling a game-and-a-half behind NDSU and a
half-game behind Western Illinois - a 62-52 winner over IPFW Thursday - and
into fifth place.
NDSU, which improved to 8-5 in league play an d15-7 overall
with the win, remained in third place in The Summit League.
North Dakota State took advantage of five early turnovers to
run out to a 16-2 lead in the first six minutes of the game and although the
Thunderbirds made several runs at the deficit they were never able to overcome
the early hole.
The Bison opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers, one
by Lawrence Alexander and another by Drew Lundberg, and after Damon Heuir got
the Thunderbirds on the board with a driving layup NDSU ran off 10 straight
points and held a 16-2 advantage with 13:55 to play.
After Alexander capped the run with a pair of free throws
Heuir hit a short jumper from the right wing to cut the deficit to 16-4 but
Jordan Aaberg converted a 3-point play to push the Bison advantage to 19-4.
After finding themselves down 43-29 at halftime the
Thunderbirds battled back to within 48-38 on a Ray Jones, Jr., dunk following a
Stevenett steal with 17:35 to play, but NDSU got a time out and answered with
11 straight points for a 59-38 lead with 13:39 to play.
"You can't start like that and expect to beat good teams -
or any team - on the road," SUU Coach Roger Reid said. "I was disappointed
with the way we came out, we just didn't look ready to play. We turned it over
way too much early, and although we fixed that problem we just dug a hole too
deep to climb out of."
SUU finished the game with just 14 turnovers to NDSU's 16,
but the five in the early going were pivotal.
Mike Felt, who fueled the early Bison run with a barrage of
3-pointers, led NDSU with 16 points off the bench, 15 of them coming on five