PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – It was the third annual Northern Arizona Suns Kids Day Game at the Findlay Toyota Center on Tuesday, but this time you could also call it the Phoenix Suns Game.
Phoenix Suns players Jared Harper, Jalen Lecque and Tariq Owens all had impressive performances for the NAZ Suns in the team’s 125-114 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The Suns (7-20) dropped their first game of the season against the Vipers, now 2-1 against them in 2019-20. The Vipers (10-19) have won four of their last five games.
Harper set a NAZ Suns record with his seventh straight 20+ point game, surpassing Archie Goodwin (six, 2017-18) for the longest 20+ point streak in team history. He had 24 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Lecque played his first NAZ Suns game since Jan. 5 after being assigned this morning, and he showed no signs of rust, totaling 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. This was his best scoring effort since he tied his career-high on Dec. 7 at Salt Lake City with 25 points.
Owens achieved his team-leading sixth double-double with a perfect day shooting, finishing with 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting, 10 rebounds and a block. It’s his first double-double since Jan. 1 at Iowa.
The Suns dropped this one in front of 2,137 fans, mostly students from schools across the quad-city area, despite the fact they outshot and outrebounded RGV. The Suns finished 42-of-84 (.500) from the field, while Rio Grande Valley made 47-of-97 (.485) shots. The Suns outrebounded the Vipers 45-44. Turnovers cost the Suns, as Northern Arizona gave it away 23 times, compared to 16 takeaways themselves.
The Suns battled early on even though RGV was feeling it. After the Vipers jumped out to a 5-0 lead, the Suns stormed back to take a nine-point lead at 21-12. The Vipers used an 8-0 run to get within one, then used a good finish to the frame to lead 33-31. The second quarter was close until the Vipers broke out an 8-0 run to end the half in what was a tied game to take a 70-62 lead. That run would grow to 20-2 at the start of the third, lifting RGV up 18 points midway through. From there on, the Vipers took a 28-point lead and never had it seriously in danger the rest of the way.
William Howard powered Rio Grande Valley with a double-double, posting a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds, to go with three assists and two steals. Jacobi Boykins led the bench with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-8 from distance, to go with three rebounds and three assists.
For the Suns, Ahmed Hill also had a solid performance with 19 points (7-10 FG, 4-6 3PT) off the bench.
The Suns will hit the road for two games at the Agua Caliente Clippers, beginning Thursday at 8 p.m. MT. The Vipers will play their next two at the Sioux Falls Skyforce, starting Friday at 6 p.m. MT.