Southern Utah
Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

2023-24 Team Preview: Southern Utah Women’s Basketball

Southern Utah Women’s Basketball is coming off of an incredible first season in the WAC.

After finishing first in the regular season, the Thunderbirds had a fantastic run to the WAC Championship game, where they defeated California Baptist in convincing fashion.

Remember this shot? Yeah, it saved the T-Birds hope of going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

There were some significant losses for the squad this offseason.

Their top players in Cherita Daugherty (Graduted) and Lizzy Williamson (Transfer) both left the team.

But the transfer portal was kind to Tracy Mason and her staff.

Southern Utah is without a doubt still a top team in the conference. But unlike last season, this year, Southern Utah has a target on its back with high expectations. Let’s dive into what this team looks like going into the 23-24 season.

Head Coach:

Tracy Mason (6th Season)

At SUU:

78–67

2022-2023 Season Record:

23-10 OVR | 16-2 WAC | Regular Season and WAC Tourney Champs

Postseason:

NCAA Tournament: First-Round Loss to Notre Dame, 82-56

Departures:

  • Cherita Daugherty – Graduated
  • Lexi Jensen – No Longer on Roster
  • Jodi Noyes – In Transfer Portal
  • Kinlee Sorenson – No Longer on Roster
  • Bryer Tronnier – Graduated
  • Lizzy Williamson – Transfer to NC State

Newcomers:

  • Jaeden Brown 6-1, Jr., Transfer (UVU)
  • Shiho Isono 5-6, Jr., Transfer (Western Nebraska CC)
Dayla Balleni is one of a handful of returners for SUU. Balleni’s role is set to increase significantly in 2023-24. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Key Returners:

  • Dayla Ballena – 5’8, Senior
  • Megan Jensen  – 6’3, Graduate
  • Tomekia Whitman 5-10, Graduate

Projected Starting Lineup:

  • 1 – Dayla Ballena
  • 2 – Tomekia Whitman
  • 3- Samantha Johnston
  • 4 – Jaeden Brown
  • 5 – Megan Jensen

This team is tall and experienced. Stealing Jaeden Brown from UVU is huge for this team to fill the holes left by Cherita Daugherty’s graduation and Lizzy Williamson’s transfer. This lineup and the depth they have maintained absolutely keep them as a contender. They have eight upperclassmen, including three Grad Students. This team is built to win right now, and they might just do that again this year.

Outlook:

I’ve said it throughout this article. This team is still solid and contending in the WAC. They were dominant and borderline unstoppable last season and I expect more of that this year.

However, this season they find themselves in a much more top-heavy WAC. Teams like GCU and UTA took this offseason to bulk up their rosters through the transfer portal and are looking to give SUU a run for the money. It will be very interesting to see how these match-ups turn out.

Areas of Improvement:

Frankly, there’s not much this team could do wrong last season.

However, despite their overall success, they often found themselves in the middle of the pack when it comes to scoring.

SUU finished the season seventh in the WAC in this category. The T-Birds should definitely focus on improving their offensive efficiency while still leading the WAC in rebounds. Their defense was also top-5 in the WAC by the end of the season.

Continuing that dominance on the defensive end while improving their overall scoring numbers will be key to this squad finishing atop the WAC once again.

About the author

Chelsea Mendelson

On-Air Talent and Producer with GCUTV. Former basketball player and current basketball fan. Proud to be a woman in sports.

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