PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Suns had a chance to knock off a team holding the best record in the D-League for the second straight game, but missed free throws and their struggles inside did them in in their 102-97 loss to the Raptors 905 at the Prescott Valley Event Center Wednesday night.
The Raptors were dominant in the paint and on the boards, earning 18 more points in the paint (48-30) and winning the rebound battle 51-34.
It was a great counterpunch to the Suns’ great outside shooting once again, as NAZ finished 13-of-28 (.464) beyond the arc. However, the Suns (18-19) were far less effective closer to the rim, shooting 37.3 percent from two-point range.
It looked like Northern Arizona might let things get away early against the Raptors (29-9), trailing by 12 points with a little under 11 minutes left in the second quarter. The Suns answered with a 13-0 run to take the lead 34-33, a span that lasted under three minutes. The 905 got doubled up in the second frame 32-16 and the Suns took a seven-point lead into halftime.
Both teams traded punch for punch in the third quarter, but when it came down to crunch time, neither squad could knock down free throws.
The Raptors finished the game shooting 14-for-28 from the free throw line, but their 9-for-14 (.643) clip in the fourth quarter wasn’t nearly as bad as Northern Arizona’s. The Suns finished the game shooting 5-of-15 (.333) from the charity stripe, as part of their 20-for-34 (.588) clip overall.
The 905 extended the longest active winning streak in the D-League to seven games. They also improved to 14-2 on the road, and kept their perfect record intact against Western Conference opponents, moving to 5-0. They bumped up to a full game ahead of the Los Angeles D-Fenders (28-10) atop the overall league standings.
The Suns had their longest streak of scoring 100 points or more snapped with their 97-point night (six games).
Xavier Silas led all scorers with 26 points, even though he never attempted a field goal inside the arc. He shot 6-of-13 from three-point land, while being perfect from the line in his own right, 8-for-8. Askia Booker tallied 17 points, eight assists and four steals, while Alex Davis recorded 14 points and eight rebounds.
Michael Bryson scored a new career-high 15 points on a new career-best 5-of-7 from the three-point line. He also added eight rebounds off the bench.
Will Sheehey got the start tonight and led the Raptors with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Brady Heslip had 17 points and six rebounds, while big-man Edy Tavares contributed seven points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
Yanick Moreira had the lone double-double on the night, doing so off the bench with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Suns will continue their tough four-game stretch against the top three teams in the D-League with another matchup with the D-Fenders on Friday night at PVEC at 7 p.m. MT. NAZ is looking to split the season-series, while Los Angeles will try to take it 3-1. The 905 is just getting started on its longest road trip of the year, heading to Reno next on Friday at 8 p.m. MT. It will be the Raptors’ second game on the five-game trip.