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NAZ Suns Comeback Comes Up Short In Loss to Defenders

04 March 2017  
Photo Courtesy: Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns
Turnovers Create A Deficit Too Large for NAZ Suns to Overcome

PRESCOTT VALLEY- Considering the Northern Arizona Suns had just beat the first-place Los Angeles Defenders on Sunday, things looked positive for the team on Friday night. However, for a second game in a row, the team struggled with the little things and turned the ball over 22 times in route to a 107-94 defeat at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

“We’re just young, we are very young and inexperienced,” Northern Arizona Suns head coach Ty Ellis said after the game. “I just told them I’m not going to have a heart attack or keep stressing the small things, (because) you are ultimately hurting your own chances of progressing in this profession by not focusing on the small things and that’s what happened.”

Also for a second straight game, the NAZ Suns came out of the gates sluggish in the first quarter. Five NAZ Suns turnovers in the opening quarter aided the Los Angeles Defenders to a seven-point advantage after twelve minutes of play. In the second quarter, the Defenders continued to keep their foot on the gas, outscoring the NAZ Suns by two and took a 52-43 lead into the locker room.

The play of Northern Arizona wouldn’t get much better after halftime. Los Angeles opened the half with a 9-0 run and continued with a 10-0 run in the middle of the quarter thanks in large part to a ten-point quarter by Vander Blue. At one point, the Defenders lead by 22 points. Los Angeles would end the third quarter with a 15-point lead.

Northern Arizona Suns finally found their groove in the fourth quarter, opening the final twelve minutes with a 9-1 run. The NAZ Suns also began having success from beyond the arch, draining five three-point-baskets. With two minute remaining in the game, the NAZ Suns only trailed by three points. However, Los Angeles would end the game with another 10-0 run as NAZ never held a lead in the contest.

“Every time it got close, something happened,” said NAZ Suns guard Xavier Silas. “Whether it was a call or a mishap on our end. Just something that we have to learn from and deal with.”

Blue was the driving force for Los Angeles as the Marquette graduate notched 25 points in the win. Meanwhile, Josh Magette added 20 points and Travis Wear contributed 18 points to go along with 17 rebounds.

Elijah Millsap was the top scorer for Northern Arizona with 19 points while Silas added 17 poins.

Also notching double digit points in the game for the NAZ Suns was newly-acquired Joe Jackson, who picked up 15 points in his debut. Jackson returns to the D-League and United States after playing in the Israeli Basketball Premier League. The six-foot-one guard previously was a member of the Bakersfield Jam, which later became the NAZ Suns this past year, and had not played for five months before the game on Friday night.

“I’m in decent shape because I’m young still but I need to get in more shape to be able to effect both ends of the court,” Jackson said.

Jackson, along with his teammates, donned pink jerseys in the game for awareness of breast cancer. At halftime, the Yavapai College and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University volleyball teams donated over $4,000 to the Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) Foundation. Meanwhile, the game-worn jerseys were auctioned off after the contest with all proceeds going to YRMC.

After a 1-2 home stand, the NAZ Suns (18-20, 13-16 conference) hit the road again for a three-game trip starting with the Oklahoma City Blue on Sunday at 1:00pm. NAZ Suns return to the Prescott Valley Event Center on Sunday March 12th for a 5:00pm tip-off against the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

All Photos by Matt Hinshaw @ Hinshaw Photography unless noted otherwise. | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram