SALT LAKE CITY – Although the Northern Arizona Suns lost Monday night’s game at the Salt Lake City Stars, their newly acquired guard showed what he can bring to the team.
Ike Nwamu scored a game-high 28 points off the bench on 8-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-2 from downtown, in the Suns’ 124-116 loss at Lifetime Activities Center-Bruin Arena in Salt Lake City. The Suns (6-18) dropped to 4-2 in 2020, while the Stars (17-5) got back on track, having lost three of five entering the contest.
The Suns acquired Nwamu in a trade on Jan. 8. This was his second game with his new team, a game in which he scored a season-high 28 points, surpassing his two 20-point games in November with Fort Wayne. The 28 points are the most he’s scored since a 32-point game on March 24, 2018, while with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Nwamu scored 18 points in the fourth quarter on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, plus 5-of-5 shooting from the free throw line.
The Suns never gave up in this one despite dropping it in wire-to-wire fashion. The Stars jumped out to a 26-9 lead midway through the opening quarter, leading 34-21 after one. The Suns chipped away in the second quarter to get within nine at halftime, 64-55. The Stars took back control of the game in the third, winning the frame 33-24 to take a 97-79 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Suns got as close as seven a few times in the final frame, using a 7-0 run late to make it interesting, but the Stars finished it off despite turning it over 10 times in the quarter.
The Stars lit it up shooting today, finishing 43-of-76 (.566) from the field, including 15-of-29 (.517) from the three-point line, plus 14-of-20 (.700) from the charity stripe. The Suns made 37-of-87 (.425) from the floor, 10-of-38 (.263) from deep and 19-of-26 (.731) from the free throw line. The free throw makes and attempts were season-highs for the Suns. NAZ scored 27 points off of 19 forced turnovers, but they were outrebounded 41-37.
Jared Harper notched his fourth straight 20+ point game, his 15th of the season, with 23 points (7-9 FT), to go with a game-high seven assists. Aaron Epps finished with 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Trayvon Palmer followed his career-best game with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Norense Odiase recorded 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, six rebounds and two steals.
The Suns bench outscored the Stars bench 64-26.
Each member of the Stars’ starting five scored 15+ points. Mike Scott led with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-4 from downtown, to go with four assists. Trevon Bluiett and Rodney Pryor scored 22 points apiece. Bluiett made 8-of-12 FG, 3-of-6 3PT, adding five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Pryor made 8-of-9 FG, 4-of-4 3PT, adding five rebounds and two steals. Jarrell Brantley just missed a double-double with 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals (plus nine turnovers). Miye Oni achieved a double-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and a team-high six assists.
The Suns will return to Prescott Valley for a three-game homestand, beginning Friday with a back-to-back set against the Skyforce at 7 p.m. MT. The Stars have a three-game road trip ahead of them, starting Thursday at the Maine Red Claws at 5 p.m. MT.