EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – The Northern Arizona Suns had a solid January, entering the last day of the month 6-3. They couldn’t end it on a positive note, however, losing at the South Bay Lakers 133-108.
South Bay (19-12) had control of this game from the opening tip at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California. The Lakers began the game on a 13-2 run and scored 43 points in the first quarter, leading 43-22.
Eric Stuteville poured in 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting in the opening frame. South Bay shot 18-of-24 (.750) in the first 12 minutes.
After a close second quarter, the Suns (13-18) were able to get the game within 16 points a few minutes into the third quarter, 81-65. South Bay followed up with an 18-2 run to take a 32-point lead. The Suns trailed by 39 points in this one (115-76) before making a late run in the 25-point loss.
Josh Gray led Northern Arizona with 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, to go with three rebounds and four assists. He has scored 20+ points seven times over his last 10 games. His career-long 20-game streak of recording a steal ended tonight.
Stuteville scored a career-high 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting, plus a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line. He bested his 16-point game he scored on Jan. 18 in Austin.
Other Suns to join Gray and Stuteville in double-digit scoring were Xavier Silas (18 points, five assists and two steals), Archie Goodwin (15 points, nine rebounds) and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, six rebounds). Hollis-Jefferson has scored 10+ points four times in his last six games.
The Lakers never trailed, shooting 55-of-110 from the field and winning the rebounding battle 58-44.
Travis Wear had a big double-double with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 17 rebounds in just 27 minutes. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter with South Bay up by a wide margin. Los Angeles Lakers assignee Ivica Zubac tallied 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting, eight rebounds and three blocks in 27 minutes.
Four other Lakers scored in double figures, with Stephaun Branch leading the bench with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting and seven rebounds.
The Suns will return home after the two-game trip to play their first game ever at home against the Maine Red Claws on Friday at 7 p.m. MT. They will host the Santa Cruz Warriors the day after at the Prescott Valley Event Center. The Lakers will head to Salt Lake City to play the Stars on Friday at 7 p.m. MT.