SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Northern Arizona Suns showed great resiliency Sunday evening at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as they rallied back from a 20-point deficit in a game that had no playoff implications for them. The Suns weren’t quite able to get the lead at the end, and they fell to the Sioux Falls Skyforce 129-120.
The Suns (22-26) missed out on earning their eighth series win of the season and achieving a .500 mark or better in their inaugural season. They also missed out on eliminating the Skyforce (27-20) from postseason contention.
Sioux Falls now trails the fourth and final playoff spot held by the Santa Cruz Warriors (29-19) by 1.5 games.
Both teams put on an offensive clinic throughout the game by shooting efficiently from the field, red hot from beyond the arc, and demonstrating how to get to the line often. Sioux Falls shot 56.5 percent from the field (48-for-85), 45.5 percent from distance (15-of-33) and 75.0 percent from the free throw line (18-of-24). Northern Arizona wasn’t far behind, shooting 48.8 percent (39-of-80), 50.0 percent from deep (13-of-26) and earning at least 40 trips to the charity stripe for the second consecutive game (29-of-43).
Elijah Millsap led all scorers with 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals. He continued where he left off last night by scoring the Suns’ first eight points of the game. He kept the Suns in the game in the first half as they tried to weather Sioux Falls’ 60.9 percent clip in the first 24 minutes. NAZ trailed 72-60 at the break.
The Suns went on a 14-2 run after trailing by 13 with 8:37 left to make it a one-point game with under five minutes remaining. That would be as close as they’d get, despite Shaquille Harrison scoring 14 of his 22 points in the second half. He reached his mark on 7-of-10 shooting and 7-of-7 from the free throw line, while adding four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
Josh Gray powered the Suns bench with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting, three rebounds and four assists. Northern Arizona’s starting point guard, Askia Booker, had 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Greg Whittington led the way for Sioux Falls, dropping 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-9 from distance, and eight rebounds. Patrick Miller (22 points on 9-of-15 shooting) and Bubu Palo (20 points on 6-of-7 shooting, eight rebounds) also reached the 20-point mark for the Skyforce. Keith Benson had the game’s lone double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Larry Drew II dished out 13 assists, but only added a point.
The Suns head back to Prescott Valley for their last home game of the season on Wednesday against the Austin Spurs at 6:30 p.m. PT. Sioux Falls will take on the Iowa Energy in its last home game on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PT.