HIDALGO, Tex. – The Northern Arizona Suns knew it’d be a challenge slowing down the best offensive team in the league, but they weren’t able to cause enough trouble in their 138-116 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Sunday night.
The Vipers (29-16) got off to a fast start, taking a 13-4 lead just four minutes into the game and leading by five after the first quarter. The Suns (21-24) were able to rally back during the first three quarters when Rio Grande Valley would go on a run, but the Vipers ran away with the game in the final frame, winning the quarter 40-28.
Rio Grande Valley came into the game averaging 119.7 points, which is tops in the league. They shot 50-for-87 (.575) from the field, while also making 82.4 percent of their free throws (28-for-34).
Seven Vipers scored in double figures, with Darius Morris posting 28 points, six assists and five rebounds. Jaron Johnson also hit the 20-point mark, finishing with 22 points off the bench.
Elijah Millsap tried to power the Suns, recording 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
The Suns got a lot from their bench tonight, as Josh Gray (16 points, seven assists, five rebounds), Derek Cooke Jr. (15 points, seven rebounds) and Shaquille Harrison (12 points) all scored in double figures.
Rio Grande Valley was strong on the boards, winning the rebounding battle 50-28. The 28 rebounds were a season-low for the Suns (31 vs. Austin on Jan. 20).
The Suns are now five games back of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with five games to go. The Vipers remain the conference’s third seed, taking a three-game lead on the fourth-seeded Santa Cruz Warriors.
Northern Arizona gets to head back home for a game against the Texas Legends, with tip off slated for 6:30 p.m. PT on Thursday. Rio Grande Valley will continue their eight-game homestand on Tuesday against the Warriors at 5 p.m. PT.