PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – It was Western Night for the Northern Arizona Suns on Saturday, but it was the Sioux Falls Skyforce who came to town with John Wayne.
Jared Harper went off on Saturday at the Findlay Toyota Center as NAZ (7-19) lost to the Skyforce 120-109. The Skyforce (12-14) have won four of their last five games and took the season-series from the Suns 3-1.
Harper recorded 31 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 3-of-7 from distance, plus 6-of-7 from the free throw line, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. This was Harper’s third 30+ point game of the season and his first since Dec. 3 vs. Memphis. Harper’s streak of scoring 20+ points is now six games long, which ties a team record long streak, set by Archie Goodwin (Feb. 9-27, 2018). Over this six-game span, Harper has averaged 24.0 points, 5.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
The Suns had a tough start to this one. With the Skyforce up 23-17 with 4:36 left, they ended the quarter on a 19-2 run, finishing the frame up 42-19. Sioux Falls made 17-of-23 (.739) from the field and 7-of-8 (.875) from distance in the quarter. Sioux Falls would not relent in the second quarter, building their lead up to 31 points before finishing the first half up 77-48. Jarrett Jack had 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half, while Gabe Vincent had 16 points off the bench thanks to five three-point makes.
The Suns got back in the game in the third quarter, chipping away their deficit to 13 points with 5:11 remaining. From there, Sioux Falls ended the frame on a 17-2 run to lead 104-76 entering the fourth quarter. The Suns had a great fourth quarter, taking a 32-point deficit down to 11, but the hole was too deep.
The Skyforce made 47-of-90 (.522) from the floor and 15-of-32 (.469) from downtown. The Suns made 35-of-86 (.407) shots and 13-of-35 (.371) from distance. After getting outrebounded 24-11 in the first half, the Suns crashed the boards in the second half, winning that battle 31-19 to finish down overall just one at 43-42. The Skyforce outscored the Suns in the paint 50-38 and had 18 fast break points to Northern Arizona’s nine.
Three other starters joined Harper in double figures, including Anthony Lawrence II, who had 19 points (5-8 FG, 3-4 3PT), seven rebounds and four assists. Trayvon Palmer had 16 points (5-8 FG, 4-6 3PT). Ahmed Hill finished with 10 points, four assists and two steals. Norense Odiase powered the bench with 12 points and eight points.
Jack led the Skyforce with 20 points (9-14 FG). Vincent finished with 18 points (6-9 FG, 5-7 3PT). KZ Okpala had a second straight double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
The Suns next play on Tuesday for their Third Annual Kids Day Game. They’ll host the Rio Grande Valley Vipers at 11 a.m. MT. The Skyforce don’t play until Friday, taking on those same Vipers at home at 6 p.m. MT.