PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – With a chance to make a massive push towards the sixth and final spot in the playoffs, the Northern Arizona Suns came up just short at home Tuesday night against the Reno Bighorns, dropping it 132-125.
The loss dropped NAZ to 20-20, snapping its four-game winning streak. Reno improved to 22-17 and moved ahead of the Suns in the playoff race by 2.5 games. The Bighorns own the tiebreaker over the Texas Legends and now sit in the fifth spot in the Western Conference.
Tonight was a game of runs, with both teams making strong pushes to either take a big lead or to make a big comeback. Reno finished with the last run, however. After Northern Arizona made it just a one-point game with 1:27 left, Marcus Williams hit a deep three-pointer to spark an 8-0 run. Reno also made six consecutive free throws to put the game away, taking a 2-1 series lead with the fourth and final matchup happening back at the Prescott Valley Event Center on March 4.
Josh Gray led the Suns with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 5-of-10 from distance, to go with eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals. He scored 15 points in the first quarter to keep the Suns in it early.
Archie Goodwin used a 15-point fourth quarter to finish with 25 points (10-of-14 FT), seven rebounds and three assists. This marked Goodwin’s sixth consecutive game scoring 20+ points.
Danuel House kept his efficiency up by dropping 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 6-of-10 from deep, to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.
Off the bench were Davon Reed and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson with solid nights. Reed tallied 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-5 from the three-point line, four rebounds and one block. Hollis-Jefferson has scored 10+ points in a career-long stretch of four games, earning 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals tonight.
Alec Peters finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
On the night, the Suns were great from distance and the free throw line, making 20-of-45 (.444) from deep and 25-of-30 (.833) from the charity stripe. What hurt them was turnovers (18 that led to 26 points) and points in the paint, where Reno won the category 54-34. The Bighorns were also hot shooting, finishing 49-of-93 (.527) from the field and 11-of-19 (.579) from distance.
Williams led the Bighorns with 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting, including 5-of-7 from deep, to go with eight assists and six rebounds. Two other Bighorns had big games, as JaKarr Sampson tallied 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting and seven rebounds, while Aaron Harrison returned after playing for USA Basketball to tally 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting and three rebounds.
This marked the first loss for Northern Arizona on the first game of a back-to-back set this season (3-1). The Suns play at the Santa Cruz Warriors tomorrow at 8 p.m. MT. The Bighorns head to South Bay to take on the Lakers on Friday at 8 p.m. MT.