PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – Xavier Silas simply could not be stopped.
The Northern Arizona Suns’ guard put on a clinic shooting the ball Sunday night at the Prescott Valley Event Center in a game that was looking bleak for his team through the first three quarters. Trailing by 24 points towards the end of the first half and seeing a 99-83 deficit after the first three frames, the Suns (21-21) completed their largest comeback of the season. NAZ outscored the Sioux Falls Skyforce (26-18) 44-24 in the fourth quarter to win 127-123.
Silas scored a career-high 37 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 9-of-13 from the three-point line. His nine three-point makes were the most by a Suns player in team history, and he was just one short of tying the highest mark in a single game by any D-League player this season. His point-total also matched the most any Suns player has ever scored (37 by Johnny O’Bryant on Dec. 30 at Los Angeles).
Silas tallied 16 points in the fourth quarter alone on 4-for-4 shooting, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, to help the Suns shoot 13-of-18 (.722) in the final quarter. NAZ made all five shots they attempted from downtown in the final frame, and finished the game a perfect 13-for-13 from the line. Meanwhile, the Skyforce turned the ball over 27 times that led to 34 points, including 10 times in the final 12 minutes.
This game was momentous around the league when looking at the playoff picture, as Sioux Falls held the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference by themselves entering tonight’s game. Now they are tied with the Santa Cruz Warriors for fourth in the West, and lead the Suns by just four games with eight still to play.
The run that got the Suns back in the game started when they were down 102-83 with 10:43 left to play. Northern Arizona went on a 16-0 splurge over the next three minutes to get the deficit down to just three points. Silas scored six points on the run, with Shaquille Harrison dropping seven points and Michael Bryson providing a three-pointer.
The Skyforce were looking good for the majority of the game, thanks in part to Henry Walker. He lit it up from downtown as well, finishing with 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the three-point line. All five Sioux Falls’ starters scored 12+ points, including Keith Benson (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Patrick Miller (16 points, 10 assists), who achieved the game’s only double-doubles.
Elijah Millsap flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. He shot 13-of-14 from the free throw line, converting all six of his free throws in the closing minutes to keep the game out of reach.
Harrison (15 points on 7-of-10 shooting) and Josh Gray (14 points and seven rebounds) powered the Suns’ bench, while Askia Booker achieved double-digit assists (10), adding eight points.
The Suns averaged 121.7 points over their last three games.
Northern Arizona stays home to face off against their last Eastern Conference opponent of the season, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. PT. The Skyforce get to go back to South Dakota after a three-game road trip, where they will take on the Reno Bighorns on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. PT.