SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Northern Arizona Suns played a double-overtime thriller on Christmas in Sioux Falls last year, losing 96-94. Just four days after Christmas this year, the Suns and Skyforce again played a double-overtime thriller, and again Sioux Falls won by two points, 120-118.
This was the first contest of a seven-game road trip for the Suns, who dropped to 7-13 on the season. Sioux Falls improved to 9-12, breaking its three-game home losing streak in the process.
Northern Arizona followed a close first quarter with a 35-23 second frame, leading by 18 points in the middle of the quarter and taking a 67-51 lead at the break. Alec Peters scored 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, to go with four rebounds in the first half alone.
Sioux Falls answered by winning the third quarter 31-19, setting up a wild finish.
The Suns jumped out to a 14-1 run to open the fourth frame, taking a 100-83 lead with 7:20 remaining. After leading 106-90 with 5:02 left, Sioux Falls broke off a 20-2 run to take a two-point lead with just 1.5 seconds left. Shaquille Harrison drove and made a contested lay-up with 0.4 seconds left to tie the game. He was fouled on the play, but failed to make the free throw.
The first three shots of overtime were made to give SXF a 114-113 lead with just over a minute left. Josh Gray nailed a three-point field goal with 7.4 ticks left to lift the Suns by two, but Peters was called for his sixth personal foul on a three-point attempt by Ike Nwamu with just 0.9 seconds left. Nwamu made his first two free throws and missed the third, sending the game into yet another period.
Trailing by two, Mike Young made a driving lay-up with 11.9 seconds left to tie the game. He was called for a foul on the other end that set up the game-winning free throws by Tony Mitchell. The Suns had their last two shots blocked as time expired, giving Sioux Falls the hard-fought victory.
Peters led the Suns with 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three-point land, to go with eight rebounds.
Xavier Silas made his return after missing the last two games with back spasms to tally 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. He made four three-pointers on the night, extending his career-long streak of making a long-ball to 20 games.
Young recorded 18 points and nine rebounds, while Gray earned his third start of the season, achieving a double-double with 12 points, nine rebounds, 14 assists and five steals. The 14 assists are the most assists by a NAZ Suns player in team history.
Off the bench were Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (17 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks) and Harrison (14 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals).
Nwamu led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-21 shooting and 7-of-15 from deep, to go with five rebounds and five assists. Mitchell had a big double-double off the bench with 23 points and 15 rebounds, to go with seven assists, while Jimmie Taylor also recorded a double-double for Sioux Falls with 13 points and 10 rebounds, to go with three blocks.
Also having big games were Rodney Pryor (20 points, seven rebounds, four blocks), Alonzo Gee (19 points, six rebounds, four assists), and Larry Drew II (12 points, four rebounds, four assists).
The Suns continue the seven-game road trip with a year-ending game on New Year’s Eve in Memphis, beginning at 12 p.m. MT. The Skyforce stays at home to play the Oklahoma City Blue on New Year’s Eve, with a 4 p.m. MT tip slated.