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Fri, Feb. 28

NAZ Suns come out on wrong end of defensive battle: Fall 93-77 to Salt Lake City Stars

Northern Arizona Suns guard Jared Harper dunks against the Salt Lake City Stars Tuesday night at the Findlay Toyota Center. (Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns)

Northern Arizona Suns guard Jared Harper dunks against the Salt Lake City Stars Tuesday night at the Findlay Toyota Center. (Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns)

PRESCOTT VALLEY – The Northern Arizona Suns knew what they were facing Tuesday night at the Findlay Toyota Center, but it didn’t make the tall task any easier.

The Salt Lake City Stars entered the contest on a 10-game winning streak, owning the best defense in the NBA G League by allowing just 101.5 points per game. It was a close game through three quarters, but ultimately the Suns lost to the Stars 93-77.

The Suns (2-13) dropped their 11th straight game, scoring the fewest points in a game in team history. The Stars (11-2) matched their longest winning streak (11 games) since they were the Idaho Stampede (March 30-Dec. 14, 2013). The Stars are now allowing just 99.6 points per game, still best in the league.

Although Tuesday night’s game was low-scoring, it held plenty of excitement. The Stars began the game on an 8-0 run and led 15-5 midway through the first quarter. The Suns answered with a 9-0 run, and trailed by just one after the first quarter, 22-21. In the second quarter, the Stars started hot again, beginning the frame on a 13-4 run. After trailing 51-35 with 3:03 left in the second, the Suns ended the first half on an 11-0 run to get within five (51-46).

The third quarter was neck-and-neck the entire time. With 32 seconds left in the frame, the Suns took their first lead of the game, 64-62. It ended up being their only lead, as the Stars went on a 7-0 run and didn’t look back. In the fourth quarter, the Stars outscored NAZ 29-13.

The Suns finished 31-of-83 (.373) from the field, 5-of-24 (.208) from beyond the arc. The Stars made 35-of-82 (.427) from the floor, 8-of-33 (.242) from distance. The Suns outrebounded the Stars 46-42, but they had seven more turnovers (22-15).

Jared Harper led the Suns with 13 points. Anthony Lawrence II (12 points, three rebounds), Daxter Miles Jr. (11 points, 4-8 FG, three rebounds) and Ahmed Hill (10 points, five rebounds, five assists) also scored in double figures. Norense Odiase (eight points, 11 rebounds) and Aaron Epps (eight points, 10 rebounds) each pulled down double-digit rebounds.

Trevon Bluiett paced Salt Lake City with 20 points off the bench on 7-of-12 shooting, including 5-of-8 from distance. Nigel Williams-Goss had 18 points (7-12 FG), seven assists and three steals. Jarrell Brantley had the game’s lone double-double with 17 points (7-13 FG) and 12 rebounds.

Next up for both of these teams is the MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase Tournament. The Suns will begin their slate against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Friday at 6 p.m. MT on Court 1 at Manadaly Bay Resort and Casino. The Stars will take on the Wisconsin Herd on Friday at 7 p.m. MT on Court 2.

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