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Wed, June 26

NAZ Suns surrender late rally by Warriors, drop 6th straight
O’Bryant, Gray and Cooke record double-doubles in loss

Northern Arizona's Johnny O'Bryant drives the baseline Dec. 14. The Suns lost 115-108 to the Santa Cruz Warriors on the road Thursday, Dec. 29. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier, File)

Northern Arizona's Johnny O'Bryant drives the baseline Dec. 14. The Suns lost 115-108 to the Santa Cruz Warriors on the road Thursday, Dec. 29. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier, File)

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Johnny O’Bryant, Josh Gray and Derek Cooke Jr. each had double-doubles, Askia Booker scored 21 points in his return from injury, but Northern Arizona surrendered an 18-11 game-ending spurt by Santa Cruz in a 115-108 loss on Thursday night.

It is the sixth straight loss for the Suns, which are now 0-3 against the Warriors this season. All three Northern Arizona losses have come during the six-game funk. Santa Cruz’s average margin of victory in its three wins over Northern Arizona is 15.

Trailing 36-21 after the first quarter, Northern Arizona used a 29-14 run capped by a running Gray layup to tie it at 50-50 with 2:06 to play in the half. Gray’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Suns a 59-56 halftime lead.

But after O’Bryant hit a pair of free throws to tie it at 97-97 with 5:01 to play in the fourth quarter, Santa Cruz responded with an 18-11 run to close out the game, including three 3-pointers by Phil Pressey, who finished with 25 points.

O’Bryant, a former LSU standout, finished with 25 points on 9 of 18 shooting from the field, including a perfect 5 for 5 from the free-throw line, and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Gray scored 16 points, dished 10 assists and recorded three steals, while Cooke was 5 of 6 from the field for 10 points and had 10 rebounds.

Northern Arizona (10-7) shot 47 percent from the field (42-90), including 11 3-pointers, but committed 29 fouls, which turned a 24 of 33 mark from the free-throw line for the Warriors.

For Santa Cruz (10-8), Dennis Clifford finished with 26 points on 11 of 13 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Elgin Cook had 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

NEXT UP

Northern Arizona wraps up a three-game road trip tonight against the Los Angeles D-Fenders. The Suns lost a 142-135 double-overtime game to Los Angeles the last time these two clubs met Nov. 23. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is a sports writer and columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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