LAS VEGAS – The Northern Arizona Suns had everything clicking through most of their MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase Tournament opening game. The last six minutes cost the Suns a win.
The Suns lost to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 99-94 on Friday night at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The Suns (2-14) lost their 12th straight game, while the Mad Ants (7-10) extended their season-long winning streak to four games.
Northern Arizona jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter, ending the frame up 29-23 thanks to a 12-of-20 (.600) clip from the field, 5-of-9 (.556) from downtown. Jared Harper set the tone with 12 points and four assists in the first quarter. The Suns’ good shooting continued in the second quarter (9-15 FG, 4-7 3PT), but the Mad Ants won the frame 30-26 because of an 11-0 advantage in second chance points. The Suns led 55-53 at halftime.
The Suns defense clamped down in the third, allowing just 16 points on 7-of-26 (.269) shooting. They held a 76-69 lead going into the fourth quarter. Things were looking good for Northern Arizona until midway through the fourth quarter. The Suns led by 10, 86-76, with 7:50 remaining before the Mad Ants went on a 20-2 run. After Trayvon Palmer scored a layup with 6:39 left, the Suns didn’t score again until there was 22.9 seconds left.
Fort Wayne pounded the boards, winning the rebounding battle 54-39. The Mad Ants earned 15 more field goal attempts because of 22 offensive rebounds. They had 21 second chance points compared to five by Northern Arizona. The Suns outshot the Mad Ants 34-of-74 (.459) to 33-of-89 (.371).
Harper had a monster showing at the Showcase, dishing a career-high 13 assists to go with 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting, three rebounds and two steals. Harper tallied his first career double-double and ninth 20+ point game. He’s the first Suns player with 25+ points and 10+ assists in a game since 2017-18.
Daxter Miles Jr. had 15 points, and Palmer led the bench in scoring with 12 points (4-6 FG). Norense Odiase (11 rebounds, eight points, five assists, two blocks, one steal) and Aaron Epps (10 rebounds, five points) recorded 10+ rebounds apiece off the bench.
Fort Wayne’s Alize Johnson led his team in scoring with 24 points (10-21 FG), to go with 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Ben Moore joined him with a double-double (14 points, 16 rebounds), while Brian Bowen II joined him in scoring 20+ points (21 points, nine rebounds, four steals).
The Suns will wrap up their MGM Resorts NBA G League Winter Showcase Tournament two-game slate tomorrow against the Long Island Nets at 8:30 p.m. MT. The Mad Ants will look to win the grouping as they’ll take on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. MT.