Starting the final week of the regular season, newcomer Southern Utah needs just one win to clinch no worse than a share of the regular season title.
However, getting across the finish line has proven to be the toughest challenge of all for the T-Birds
That last week of regular season play has Southern Utah sleeping in their own beds and playing in Cedar City. However, they’ll be playing two teams that have combined for three WAC tournament title game appearances in the last two years.
It starts with CBU on Tuesday night as former Thunderbird Kinsley Barrington returns to Cedar City with a Lancer team looking too pull within a game of Southern Utah with one lone game left on Thursday night.
Here’s what I’m looking for in this game, set to tip off at 6:30 p.m. MT on ESPN+.
Battle in the Paint
If you like post play this is your game. You’ll have three of the conference’s premier post players gathered on the same floor for 40 minutes in CBU’s Grace Schmidt, a candidate for Freshman of the Year honors, along with Southern Utah bigs Megan Jensen and Lizzie Williamson.
Schmidt is averaging 13.7 points and 5.6 rebounds in just shy of 27 minutes of work per night.
Jensen, a transfer from Utah Valley, is averaging 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds. Meanwhile, Williamson is posting a double double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Schmidt has won six Freshman of the Week honors but will be tested against an upperclassmen duo of posts that might be the envy of mid-major women’s basketball.
The guard matchup is definitely also one you’d want to save for the final week.
Trinity San Antonio, Dorcas Wu and Sila Finau lead the Lancer guard line that one wouldn’t be too out of line in saying is playing some of their best basketball down the stretch.
Cherita Daugherty, Daylani Ballena and Tomekia Whitman have also been on good form recently for Southern Utah.
Wu (38.5 percent) and Ballena (40.6 percent) are two of the WAC’s premier 3-point shooters and more than capable of taking over a game on their own as three level scorers.
San Antonio and Daugherty lead their squads in scoring and are among the top-5 in 20-point games this season. Both San Antonio and Daugherty will have the ball in their hands at the end of the ball game. Along with that, both are very capable of taking over a ball game at any given moment.
Keep an eye on Samantha Johnston. The Southern Utah guard and daughter of head coach Tracy Sanders could be the X-factor for the T-Birds. Johnston can light it up from 3-point range and may have to in order for Southern Utah to clinch a share of the regular season title on Tuesday night.
Southern Utah has been turnover prone this year to the tune of a +151 margin on the year (averaging 17 a game) while the Lancers are -67 (averaging 15.1 per game). Whoever wins the turnover battle will have a really good opportunity to win this game.
Jarrod Olson 250 career wins as CBU’s head coach. Olson has also taken the Lancers to a WAC regular season title and WAC Tournament title.
— California Baptist Women's Basketball (@CBUwbb) February 27, 2023
Tracy Sanders has taken the Southern Utah women’s basketball program to new heights since taking over in 2018. The T-Birds have improved their win total every year under Sanders and now have a chance at a regular season title.
— SUU Women’s Basketball (@SUUWBasketball) February 28, 2023
Tuesday is huge for both teams. CBU wants to keep pace for a top-4 seed. Southern Utah is looking to clinch. It should be a fun one on ESPN+.