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NAZ Suns Can’t Connect From Distance Enough In Loss To Vipers

18 March 2017  
Photo by Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns

Suns finish 11-for-45 (.244) from beyond the arc, lose to Rio Grande Valley 124-116

HIDALGO, Tex. – The Northern Arizona Suns have been making a majority of their points from beyond the arc lately, connecting on at least 11 three-point attempts per game entering Friday night’s matchup against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Although they made 11 threes again today, they were only able to manage a 24.4 percent clip from beyond the arc in the 124-116 loss to the Vipers at the State Farm Arena.

Xavier Silas, who has been on fire of late, couldn’t quite find his stroke tonight from distance, finishing 3-of-14 from beyond the arc. The Suns missed 34 three-pointers, and finished the game shooting 43-of-105 (.401) from the field altogether.

With the loss, the Suns (21-23) couldn’t get closer to the teams in the playoff mix. They are now 4.5 games behind the Santa Cruz Warriors, who hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Warriors will play later Friday. The Vipers (28-16), meanwhile, maintain the third-seed in the West.

Josh Gray led the Suns with 27 points on 11-of-23 shooting, to go with seven rebounds and seven assists. He almost matched his career-high of 30 points that he set on Feb. 14.

Gray led the Suns rally in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t muster enough momentum to get closer than six points at the end.

NAZ started the game well, leading 28-24 after the first quarter and taking a 12-point lead halfway through the second quarter. The Vipers answered by going on a run to lead by a point at halftime, and they never trailed the rest of the game. Rio Grande Valley started the third quarter on a 17-2 run to take a 16-point lead.

Troy Williams led the Vipers with 25 points, to go with eight rebounds and three assists. He was one of seven Rio Grande Valley players to score in double figures, with Darrius Morris also earning 20+ points, as he tallied 23 points and seven rebounds. Chinanu Onuaku achieved Rio Grande Valley’s lone double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Four of the Suns’ starters scored 14+ points, with Elijah Millsap and Silas contributing 19 points apiece. Washington Wizards’ assignee Chris McCullough had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The Suns will stay put, as both teams will face off once again on Sunday at 4 p.m. PT at the State Farm Arena. Northern Arizona leads the season-series 2-1.