GREENSBORO, NC – The Northern Arizona Suns started off slow during the first two games of a four-game trip, but in Greensboro on Thursday night, they couldn’t have started any better.
In fact, they haven’t ever shot better from beyond the arc, as Northern Arizona made 23-of-42 (.548) from three-point land. Those 23 three-pointers were the most made three-pointers in a game in team history (18 at Rio Grande Valley this season on Nov. 14).
Northern Arizona opened a 25-point lead in the opening frame, which paved the way to a 140-115 win at the Swarm, a game that was televised on ESPNU.
The Suns led 44-21 after the first 12 minutes thanks to a 16-of-25 (.640) shooting clip, including 7-of-11 from the three-point line. Anthony Bennett, who played his first game since missing the last week participating in the FIBA Americas Qualifiers with Team Canada, scored 10 points in the first six minutes.
He finished with a team-high 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, to go with seven rebounds. This marked a new professional career-high, besting his 22 points he scored against the Grand Rapids Drive on Nov. 27, 2016, while with the Long Island Nets, and besting his NBA career-high 20 points he scored on Nov. 21, 2014, against San Antonio while with Minnesota.
It was a wire-to-wire win for the Suns, their first of the season. Their big lead was never in real danger, as Greensboro would get as close as 19 points in the second half after falling behind 14-2 in the first quarter.
The Suns, who led by 32 points at one time in the game, shot 47-of-93 (.505) from the field and 23-of-25 (.920) from the free throw line. The Swarm shot a good 44-of-88 (.500) clip too, but made 12 less three-pointers. NAZ also outrebounded Greensboro 49-36 and tied a team-record with 30 assists (vs. Texas on March 23, 2017).
Derrick Jones Jr., who just scored a career-high 32 points at Delaware on Tuesday, came off the bench and recorded 22 points and eight rebounds. Xavier Silas also scored 20+ points, notching 22 on 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.
Six Northern Arizona Suns players scored 17+ points in this one. Shaquille Harrison recorded 19 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Mike Young just missed out on a triple-double with 17 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and two blocks. Alec Peters also had a solid game in his return to Northern Arizona from the Phoenix Suns, posting 17 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Jalen Jones led things for the Swarm, scoring a game-high 29 points on 8-of-16 shooting, plus 12-of-16 from the free throw line. He earned the game’s lone double-double with 11 rebounds, also adding five assists, two steals and two blocks. It was his fifth consecutive game scoring 20+ points, making it the second longest such streak of his career.
Charles Cooke (25 points on 11-of-18 shooting) and Sam Thompson (16 points, four steals and four blocks) also had big games off the bench. Terry Henderson was the lone starter to do real damage with 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Greensboro’s starting five was outscored 79-35 by the Suns’ starting five.
Northern Arizona heads to Lakeland for a 5 p.m. MT matchup with the Magic on Saturday. That will mark the end of a four-game trip for NAZ. Greensboro will head to Oklahoma City to play the Blue at 6 p.m. MT on Saturday.