DENVER - Senior guard Chase Hallam (Mesquite, Texas) became the 32nd Pioneer to score 1,000 career points, as the University of Denver men's basketball team toppled Southern Utah 72-47 Friday afternoon at Magness Arena.
Hallam reached the milestone on a three-pointer with 10:13 remaining in the game, his final bucket in an 11-point effort on 4-for-6 shooting.
Sophomore forward Royce O'Neale (Killeen, Texas) and sophomore guard Cam Griffin (San Antonio, Texas) led Denver (4-6) with 12 points apiece. Freshman guard Nate Engesser (Colorado Springs, Colo.) added 10 points in his first career start. He was matched by sophomore guard Brett Olson (Highlands Ranch, Colo.), who also finished with 10 points. Junior forward Chris Udofia (Irving, Texas) filled the stat sheet with seven points, seven assists, four rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals.
"Our young guys have been resilient," head coach Joe Scott said. "They've responded to our coaching, and you can tell we're getting better. We have more guys contributing, and we need to get that throughout the course of a season. Obviously this bodes well for the future."
The Pioneers collected a season-high 13 steals, including four by Hallam, and SUU's 22 turnovers into 35 points.
Denver shot 55.3 percent (26-of-47) in the contest, including 43.8 percent (7-of-16) from three-point range, while the Thunderbirds (3-7) hit 40.8 percent (20-of-49) and 25.0 percent (3-of-12) from beyond the arc.
The Pioneers rolled in the first half, stringing together runs of 10-2 and 14-4 to build a 40-20 lead at the break.
Engesser led the Pioneers with 10 first-half points. Griffin added eight points, while O'Neale and Olson tallied seven points each. Denver shot 56 percent in the opening frame, compared to 38.1 percent for the Thunderbirds.
"I think we have really gotten better since the beginning of December and are becoming the team we thought we'd become," Scott said. "It shows in our record, it shows in our play. This team now needs to tackle the challenge of winning a road game."
Jackson Stevenett led Southern Utah with 12 points, while Jayson Cheesman added 10 points and six rebounds.
The Pioneers held on from there, as Southern Utah never cut the deficit to less than 16 in the second half and Denver cruised to a 25-point victory.
The Pioneers will return to action Dec. 29 when they travel to Louisiana Tech to open Western Athletic Conference action. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT.
Visit denverpioneers.com for complete coverage of all 17 of DU's Division I athletic programs.
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