DES MOINES, Iowa – New decade, new us. The best decade of Northern Arizona Suns basketball has begun.
To begin the new year, the NAZ Suns snapped a 14-game losing streak, winning at the Iowa Wolves 102-100. The Suns’ 14-game skid was tied for the longest losing streak in team history, and alas, it’s over. The Suns improved to 3-16 with the win, while the Wolves dropped to 10-10.
Phoenix Suns Two-Way guard Jared Harper made the game-winner for Northern Arizona with 8.7 seconds left. Tied at 100, Harper drove through the lane and made a contested layup to put the Suns up two. The Wolves got two chances to win or tie the game at the other end, but both shots weren’t close as the Suns’ defense clamped down.
The Suns had a big lead in the first half, going up 22 points in the second quarter, thanks to a 14-of-20 (.700) clip in the same frame. They led 58-42 at halftime, forcing Iowa to shoot just 12-of-37 (.324) from the field. The tide turned in the third quarter, as the Wolves outscored NAZ by 30, turning a 22-point Suns lead into a 14-point Suns deficit entering the fourth quarter. In the third, the Wolves made 17-of-24 (.708) from the field and 8-of-14 (.571) from distance, compared to Northern Arizona’s 5-of-23 (.217) field goal clip, 0-of-9 mark from deep. The Wolves won the quarter 45-15.
The Suns immediately went to work to begin the fourth quarter, beginning on a 19-4 run to take back the lead by a point. It was back-and-forth from there until Iowa’s Lindell Wigginton made a three-pointer to put the Wolves up four with 1:36 left. Harper made two free throws on the next possession, and after forcing a stop, Tariq Owens followed up a Harper miss with a layup of his own to tie the game at 100 with 51.6 seconds left. The Suns forced a shot clock violation that led to Harper’s heroics. The Suns won the fourth quarter 29-13. The 13 points allowed tied the fewest points allowed in the fourth quarter in Suns history.
Trayvon Palmer led the Suns in scoring with a career-high 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, to go with nine rebounds, in 29 minutes off the bench. Owens achieved his team-leading fifth double-double with 12 points (5-8 FG), 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Harper finished with 15 points and four assists.
Jordan Murphy led the Wolves with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Wigginton recorded 22 points and four assists.
The Suns will continue their promising decade with a road game at the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Friday at 6:30 p.m. MT. The Wolves will next play at home on Saturday against the Memphis Hustle at 6 p.m. MT.