The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team will have two games in Texas this week. On Saturday, they will take on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. After a postponement, they will face the University of Texas Arlington on Monday.
The Thunderbirds have been especially hot this season with their 8-0 start in the Western Athletic Conference competition. Their latest game was a 55-48 win against Tarleton State University, which improved their overall record to 12-7. They currently find themselves at the top of the WAC standings.
Fifth-year guard Cherita Daugherty leads SUU in points per game with 14.7. This also makes her the sixth highest-scoring player in the WAC. She also leads the team in assists, and her four per game puts her top five in the conference. Senior center Megan Jensen’s 11.3 points per game accompanied with a 52.2% field goal percentage makes her one of the top scorers, along with the most accurate. Overall, the Thunderbirds shoot 41.2% from the field and 27.4% from three-point range.
On the defensive side, junior center Lizzy Williamson gets just over two blocks per game, earning her the No. 21 spot nationally in that category. She is second in the WAC for blocks per game but leads in total blocks with 39. She is also the best rebounder in the conference, averaging 10.47 per game. She nearly averages a double-double, just missing the mark on points per game with 9.9. Southern Utah as a whole is No. 1 in the WAC and No. 13 nationally with their 43.42 rebounds per game.
The Vaqueros are 8-12 overall and 2-7 in conference play. They are currently ranked 11th in the WAC following their win against Utah Tech University.
Sophomore guard Iyana Dorsey averages 16.1 points per game for UTRGV, which puts her in the top four in the conference. She shoots just 33.6% from the field, though. Deborah Ogayemi and Mele Kailahi supplement the offense with 10.7 and 10.5 points per game, respectively. Junior guard Jena’ Williams contributes with her team-leading 51 assists through their 20 games. The Vaqueros have a 34.2% field goal percentage and a 27.8% three-point percentage as a team. They do, however, shoot 72.8% from the charity stripe, which is the second best in the conference.
Ogayemi collects 8.1 rebounds per game to lead the Vaqueros in the category. It also puts her third in the conference. Kailahi and Halie Jones each have over 20 steals to help the defense out. Junior forward Zariah Sango has also contributed with her 6’4” frame to block opponents 23 times. As a team, UTRGV is third in the WAC for blocked shots and second for offensive rebounds.
The Thunderbirds are 3-0 all-time against the Vaqueros and will look to continue their untainted record.
The Mavericks, having just fallen to a 9-12 overall and 3-6 conference record, are ninth out of the 13 teams in the WAC standings. They will play Utah Tech prior to their matchup against SUU.
Their senior forward Starr Jacobs leads the team and is third in the conference in points per game, averaging 16.6. She does not shoot from long range but shoots 51.2% from the field. Jireh Washington is UTA’s main source of assists, dishing out 4.53 of them per game to make her third in the WAC. As a team, they shoot 42.5% from the field and 28.3% from beyond the arc.
Jacobs is also the Mavericks’ top rebounder and brings in seven per game. In addition, she leads the team and the conference in steals with 60 total and 2.86 per game. Rebounding is not a strength for UTA, as they have been outrebounded in 10 of their 21 games so far, but they average 10 steals per game as a team and are tied for No. 3 in the WAC.
The Mavericks and the Thunderbirds met once in 2004, and the Mavericks won 62-55. The Thunderbirds will look to even the series.
The matchup against UTRGV will be on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. MST in the UTRGV Fieldhouse. The UT Arlington game will take place Monday, Feb. 6, at 12 p.m. MST at College Park Center. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.
Story and photos by: Anden Garfield