The Southern Utah Thunderbirds attempted only two three-pointers on Friday night at Swinney Recreation Center, but tallied 52 points in the paint and shot 62.5 percent from the floor in a 91-77 win over the UMKC Kangaroos.
It was the fourth straight loss for the short-handed Kangaroos (7-9, 1-3 SL) who were out-rebounded 35-14 in the contest. UMKC played without second-leading scorer Trinity Hall for the second straight game, but did get some good news when senior center Bernard Kamwa was cleared to play before the outing.
The night got off to a rough start even before tip-off as UMKC was called for a technical foul for dunking in pre-game warm-ups. Southern Utah (7-6, 2-1 SL) hit both free throws to start the game up 2-0, and then proceeded to push that to 10-2 in the first five minutes.
UMKC stormed back though, going on a 13-2 run to take a three-point lead with 11:43 on the clock. Sophomore Nate Rogers was a key, scoring six points during the run. There would be 10 lead changes the rest of the half, with neither team holding more than a two-point advantage until just a minute remained. SUU scored the final four points to take a 34-31 lead into the half.
Both teams were lights out shooting from the floor, with SUU hitting 57.1 percent, and UMKC knocking down 52.2 percent in the period. The Thunderbirds were paced by Ramell Taylor and Jackson Stevenett with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Reggie Chamberlain led the ‘Roos with eight at the half.
The final stanza saw SUU lead from start to finish, running a clinic on offense. Its first nine makes of the second period were all lay-ups, with only two jumpers attempted. UMKC made some runs at the Thunderbirds, but each time they had an answer, never letting the score get closer than seven.
SUU hit 67.9 percent in the half (also 19-of-21 from the line), and out-rebounded the Kangaroos 20-5, with 32 points in the paint. UMKC shot the ball well with 53.8 percent, including 14 more points from Chamberlain, but the T-birds efficiency was too much in the end.
UMKC was paced by Chamberlain with 22 points, while Rogers tallied 13. Thomas Staton and Dustin Dibble added 11 points apiece for the ‘Roos, who hit 53.1 percent for the game. SUU had all five starters in double-figures, led by 21 from Taylor.
UMKC will hit the road on Tuesday for a contest at IUPUI in Indianapolis, Ind. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (Central).