Intensity in the Burns: Trailblazers get narrow victory over Thunderbirds

Utah Tech University’s men’s basketball team took the win in a heated game against our rivals, Southern Utah Univeristy Feb. 8. The student section, Stampede, brought the energy and packed the stands to come together to support our Trailblazers. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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3… 2… 1… miss. A last-second missed 3-pointer by Southern Utah University seals a back-and-forth win for Utah Tech University Feb. 8.

Utah Tech won the game 70-68 just barely fending off their rival from 45 minutes up the road. 

Noa Gonsalves, a junior recreation and sports management major from Lehi, said: “This is probably the biggest game of our season so far. There is nothing better than winning at home against a rival with all these fans here.”

Beon Riley, a junior management major from Chula Vista, California, made his return from an injury he sustained Jan. 11. He was injured during the second half of the game Utah Tech played against Stephen F. Austin State University.

Riley was the team’s leading scorer on the night with 16 points. His first shot back from injury was a 3-pointer that he made to put the Trailblazers up 10-4 early in the first half. The second basket he made was a layup where he got fouled going up for the shot and converted it into a 3-point play. 

The crowd got into the game early, and they were loud the entire game. In every rivalry game against SUU, fans show out.

“I’m OK losing my voice with a crowd like this tonight,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “I was trying to yell across the court to get their [his players] attention, and it was so loud in here, I couldn’t.”

Utah Tech had everything going for them starting the first half. They were up 27-12 with 7:21 left in the first half. However, they let go of their 15-point lead and were only up by 8 points going into halftime. 

SUU comparatively started the second half going on a 10-0 scoring run that put them up by two with 16:17 left in the second half.

Utah Tech was able to find a rhythm after going down by two. The Trailblazers went on a 15-7 run in the next four minutes. Gonsalves hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Trailblazers up 48-42. 

The remainder of the second half was back and forth. Neither team was able to pull away and keep the lead. With three seconds left in the game, SUU inbounded the ball and shot the potential game-winning 3-pointer as time was expiring and missed. 

Riley said he had complete faith in his teammates, and there was no doubt in his mind that the team was going to win the game. 

Utah Tech’s women’s basketball team was also able to secure a win against the Thunderbirds Feb. 8 in Cedar City. The final score of the game was 87-77.

This win puts the men’s team solely in seventh place in the Western Athletic Conference, half a game above both SUU and Utah Valley University. The win was crucial in the team’s push to make it to the WAC tournament. It is not the end goal though.

Riley said the win was a big win, but the team has bigger goals than just beating SUU.

“We are worried right now about getting healthy, and giving everything you have every game,” Judkins said. “Let’s win every game one at a time…All we can control is that.” 

The next game the Utah Tech men’s basketball team will play at home is Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. vs. California Baptist University.