College basketball • Thunderbirds face big hurdle in quest for league tournament.
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Cedar City • Southern Utah can take a giant step toward qualifying for the Big Sky Conference men's postseason basketball tournament Monday night, when the Thunderbirds play Montana at the Centrum Arena.
Tipoff is 7 p.m.
Southern Utah is 11-16 overall and 8-9 in the Big Sky. The Thunderbirds have lost four in a row but still find themselves in fifth place in the league standings.
SUU is a half-game behind Northern Colorado and a half-game ahead of Montana State, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State.
Four of those five teams will qualify for the Big Sky tournament. One will not.
Southern Utah's task against Montana won't be easy. The Grizzlies are 20-6 overall and 16-1 in the Big Sky. They are a half-game ahead of Weber State in the race for the regular-season championship and role as host for the conference tournament.
Montana won the first game of the season with Southern Utah in Missoula, 73-67. The Grizzlies used a 47-5 advantage in free-throw attempts to thwart the Thunderbirds' attempt to upset them.
The rematch will be the final home game for Southern Utah seniors Damon Heuir, Jordan Johnson, Tyson Koehler, Julian Scott and Jackson Stevenett.