EDINBURG, Texas – Whether to blame it on the rebounding or to blame it on Lloyd Braun, the Northern Arizona Suns lost at the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Saturday night, despite the efforts from David Krämer.
Krämer scored a career-high 26 points (10-18 FG) in the Suns’ 121-101 loss at Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg, Texas. The Suns (8-34) dropped their 14th straight game, tying their longest losing streak in team history. The Vipers (15-26) split the season-series 2-2 against Northern Arizona, tying their season-long winning streak at three games.
The Suns shot well enough to win (42-85, .494) but their rebounding was shaky from the get-go. The Vipers jumped out to a 36-17 lead after the first quarter with an 18-5 rebounding advantage. Krämer gave the Suns a scoring punch in the second with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, but the Suns were beat on the boards 12-4, entering the locker room down 72-50, 30-9 in rebounds.
The Suns’ defense forced 11 turnovers in the third quarter to win the frame 26-20, and they got within 12 points early in the fourth quarter before falling by 20.
The Vipers made 45-of-83 (.542) from the field and outrebounded the Suns 57-31. There were just 13 combined three-point makes between the two teams. The Suns forced 23 turnovers, scoring 32 points off of them, while giving it away 13 times.
Krämer added four rebounds to his total, as he surpassed his previous career-high of 21 points set on Jan. 31 at Texas. Jalen Lecque scored his fourth 20+ point game of the season, his first since Dec. 7, with 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting, adding nine assists and a career-high tying five steals. Aaron Epps finished with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and six rebounds. Jared Harper notched 12 points, six assists and five rebounds. Ike Nwamu extended his career-long streak of scoring in double figures to 15 games with 10 points (4-7 FG).
Rio Grande Valley’s Isaiah Hartenstein was a one-man wrecking crew with 34 points on 14-of-21 shooting, 19 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Each starter scored 10+ points, including Isaiah Taylor with 19 points (7-11 FG) and nine assists. Jarell Martin led the bench with 18 points (5-8 FG) and 13 rebounds.
The Suns will play consecutive games at home for the first time since early February, beginning Wednesday against the Salt Lake City Stars at 6:30 p.m. PT. The Vipers continue a five-game homestand on Wednesday against the Iowa Wolves at 5 p.m. PT.