NAZ Suns Survive Third Quarter Storm to Beat LA Defenders

27 February 2017  
All Photos Courtesy of Matt Santos/NAZ Suns
NAZ Suns Hand First-Place Los Angeles Defenders Their First Division Defeat

PRESCOTT VALLEY- As the regular season starts to head into the final month, the Northern Arizona Suns began a stretch of games against the best teams in the D-League with a 117-113 win against the first-place Los Angeles Defenders (28-10) in front of nearly 2,000 fans at the Prescott Valley Event Center on Sunday afternoon.

“LA (Los Angeles) is a freaking good team,” Northern Arizona Suns head coach Ty Ellis said after the game. “(They got) really good players, really seasoned players, and they know how to win.”

Leading by one point entering the second quarter, the Northern Arizona Suns would find their groove from beyond the arch and outscore the Los Angeles Defenders by ten points in the quarter utilizing five three-pointers, three of which came from Xavier Silas. The half ended with a bang as Shaquille Harrison drained a buzzer-beating triple which extended the NAZ Suns halftime lead to fifteen points.

Known for their second half comebacks, the Defenders came out with a purpose in the second half and ended the third quarter with a 17- 10 run to take the lead, which capped off a frame where the Defenders put 44 points on the board.

“We know they are a second half team,” Northern Arizona Suns guard Askia Booker said. “We knew they would make their run, that’s something the coaching staff talked about, and we just knew if we could weather the storm we would be perfectly fine.”

The NAZ Suns once again found their momentum in the fourth quarter as the team opened with a 12-2 run to regain the lead. The advantage would change hands three times during the final quarter but the NAZ Suns were able to bury the Defenders through success with three-point baskets as the team once again drained five in the quarter to secure the victory late.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” said Northern Arizona Suns forward Alex Davis who scored ten points in the win. “They made their run, they had one really really great quarter which was the third, and we (were) able to capitalize back in the fourth.”

The wealth was shared in the win for the NAZ Suns as six players scored double-digit points, five of which picked up over fifteen. Booker lead the charge for NAZ with 22 points, while also picking up six assists and five rebounds to go along with five baskets from beyond the arch. Guard Josh Gray accumulated 19 points while Silas and Elijah Millsap each had 18. Harrison ended the night with 17 points and five rebounds.

“We call is share the sugar,” Ellis said. “Keep on passing the ball, let’s sacrifice a couple shots for somebody else and everybody on our team can take a shot. If we just continue to sacrifice for one and other, if everybody thinks of everybody else, everybody is thought of.”

The Northern Arizona Suns (18-18) continue the stretch of games against the NBA D-League elite as the Raptors 905 (27-9) come to the Prescott Valley Event Center on Wednesday for a 6:30pm tip-off.