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SUU basketball: Thunderbirds' height advantage pays off with win

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 15 2010 12:21 a.m. MST

CEDAR CITY — Senior guard Ryan Brimley's 16 points led Southern Utah University to a 68-51 victory over visiting Oklahoma Panhandle State University on Tuesday night.

The Thunderbirds (3-7) took advantage of their length most of the night, scoring 30 points from inside the paint, blocking 13 shots and turning 17 Oklahoma Panhandle State (2-8) turnovers into 21 points. The Thunderbirds also finished with 18 assists, two off their season-high, led by junior point guard Ray Jones Jr., who dished out six assists.

"I thought it was a great effort by a number of players tonight and it was good team win for us," said SUU head coach Roger Reid, who saw 11 of his players register a point. "I really liked how we used our defense to get things going for us, forcing some turnovers, and scoring inside the paint was very nice to see."

Sophomore guard Jordan Weirick added 10 points and sophomore center Matt Hodgson came off the bench to grab a team-high 10 rebounds and block two shots for SUU. Freshman Kyle Davis used his 6-foot-8 frame to block four shots for the Thunderbirds, who snapped a three-game losing skid with the win.

"Matt came off the bench and played very well tonight," Reid said. "He and Kyle affected a lot of shots tonight. It was also good to see Ryan shoot the ball well again tonight who continues to gain confidence and emerge as a weapon for us."

The Thunderbirds overcame a sluggish opening minutes by using a 20-6 run to pull away from the Aggies. The game was tied at 7-7 in the opening minutes before Brimley sparked the big run with a couple layups, going on to finish the half with 10 points.

Southern Utah forced Oklahoma Panhandle State into 12 turnovers, scoring 12 points off those miscues as 10 Thunderbirds recorded baskets to give SUU a 35-21 lead at the break.

The Thunderbirds quickly pulled away to start the second half as Weirick hit a jumper and followed that with a long three from the left wing to give SUU a 40-22 lead.

Minutes later, back-to-back layups by junior forward Matt Massey and Jones Jr. gave the Thunderbirds their largest lead of the game, 45-24 at the 16:23 mark.

The Aggies would close the SUU lead to 10 around the 10:00 minute mark before Brimley hit a three and long two on consecutive trips for the Thunderbirds, pushing the lead back above 10. Junior forward Ramell Taylor's soaring one-handed dunk in the final seconds was the exclamation point on the SUU victory.

Southern Utah finished the game shooting 40 percent, holding OPSU to 29 percent shooting and posting a 46-40 rebound advantage. Marcale Marshall led the Aggies with 19 points.

The Thunderbirds hit the road for their next two, playing at UNLV on Saturday.

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