PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Suns kept fighting back in their season-opening game against the Santa Cruz Warriors on Saturday night, but they couldn’t get over the hump, dropping the contest at home 118-108.
After taking a 7-6 lead three minutes into the game, the Warriors went on a 17-2 run over five minutes of game action. The NAZ Suns fought back to only trail by a point after the opening frame. After a neck-and-neck second quarter, the Suns held a nine-point lead with 10:05 left in the third, their largest of the game. The Warriors followed by ending the frame up 13 (91-78), going on a 15-2 run to end the quarter. That lead grew to 18 midway through the fourth before the Suns cut it to an eight-point game with just over a minute left. With all of the momentum, the Suns could hear Vince Lombardi say, “We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.”
Phoenix Suns Two-Way forward George King led the way for Northern Arizona in front of 2,215 fans at the Prescott Valley Event Center with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, to go with four rebounds, four assists and a block. Peter Jok recorded the game’s lone double-double, posting 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, 10 rebounds and two assists.
Seven Suns of their eight-man rotation scored in double figures, led by Daxter Miles Jr. off the bench with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting (4-of-8 from distance). Phoenix Suns assignee De’Anthony Melton notched 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Derek Cooke Jr. just missed out on a double-double with 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Both teams shot the ball well tonight, with Santa Cruz at a 45-81 (.556) clip and Northern Arizona at 40-of-80 (.500). The Suns even won the rebounding battle 42-34, but turnovers proved costly, giving up 30 points on 22 turnovers, while taking the ball away 15 times (24 points).
Damion Lee led all scorers with 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting, six rebounds, two assists and three steals. Marcus Derrickson recorded 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, three rebounds and three assists. Two other Warriors reached double figures, as Darius Mooris had 17 points and Kendrick Nunn chipped in 15 points, both off of the bench.
The Suns (0-1) will head out for a three-game road trip that starts Tuesday at the Iowa Wolves at 6 p.m. MT. The Warriors (1-0) will head back to Santa Cruz for their home opener against the Stockton Kings on Wednesday, beginning at 8 p.m. MT.