Senior guard Andrea Jones came up with an early block and added 3-pointer for the first basket of the game to put Southern Utah out in front, 3-0. The two teams then traded scores until another three from senior Maylinn Smith put the Thunderbirds up 17-12 near the halfway mark of the opening period.
SUU added to its advantage in the closing moments of the half, scoring the last eight points to lead 32-21 at the break. Jones went 3-4 from the field to start the game and the team shot 42.4 percent as a whole in the first 20 minutes.
The Thunderbirds continued their run in to second period, upping the margin to 15 after two quick layups from Desiree Jackson pushed the score to 36-21. The Blackbirds battled back with a 10-0 rally over the next four minutes, but a score by Parkinson and a three from Hailey Mandelko had SUU back up by ten with 13:41 remaining.
Senior forward Carli Moreland went to work inside, and Southern Utah increased its lead to a game-high 16 points in the closing minutes and eventually went on to win by a final score of 57-44.
The Thunderbirds had their lowest offensive output of the season, but came away with the win after holding the Blackbirds to just 14 field goals on the afternoon. SUU also posted a 39-33 rebounding advantage and outscored LIU in the paint by a count of 28-18.
Robbins 11 points were a new career-high, while Moreland had a game-high 11 boards and chipped in seven points for the T-Birds. Cleandra Roberts was the only Blackbird to score in double figures, finishing the game with 10 points on 3-10 shooting.
Jones was named to the all-tournament team and Georgia Tech’s Tyaunna Marshall was named the event’s MVP.
Southern Utah will have a short break before returning home for its next game, a Dec. 16 matchup with Arizona Christian. The Thunderbirds and Firestorm will meet in the Centrum Arena at 7:00 p.m., after the SUU men take on UNLV at 5. Coverage of SUU basketball is available online at www.suutbirds.com.