PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. — The Northern Arizona Suns rallied all the way back from a 16-point deficit to lead by five, only to lose in the closing seconds at home to the Long Island Nets 117-115.
Thursday’s game marked the first time in team history Northern Arizona hosted the Nets, and it was an exciting game, something the Suns are used. All five Northern Arizona games have been decided by eight points or less, including a five-point overtime game, the two-point loss tonight, and two others decided by a single point.
Entering the game, the Suns (2-3) had the hottest offense in the league, averaging 127.5 points per game, while Long Island (3-2) was averaging the fewest points in the league at 91.3 points per game. The Nets would not be denied to start tonight though, scoring 32 points on 6-of-10 shooting beyond the arc in the first quarter, leading 21-5 less than four minutes into the game.
Northern Arizona got its deficit down to five at halftime and went on a 14-3 run to start the second half to take a five-point lead. From there on out, no team led by more than five points.
It was truly a back-and-forth finish. A Shaquille Harrison layup to give the Suns a one-point lead with 1:08 remaining was followed by an Akil Mitchell jumper. Josh Gray then gave the Suns the lead again with a layup with 36.3 seconds remaining before Jacob Wiley nailed a three-pointer with 14.8 seconds left. NAZ had its chances at the end, but the Suns could not convert.
Harrison led the Suns with 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting, to go with five rebounds. He tied his career-high in scoring, also recording 27 points in NAZ’s season opener on Nov. 4 vs. Agua Caliente.
Gray had a big day, tallying 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, five assists, three rebounds and three steals. Also off the bench was Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and six rebounds. Northern Arizona’s bench scored 67 points.
The top Suns starters were Alec Peters (13 points and six rebounds), Xavier Silas (13 points) and Derrick Jones Jr. (12 points and eight rebounds).
Milton Doyle led all scorers with 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including 8-of-14 from beyond the arc. Wiley recorded 20 points, six rebounds and four assists, with Thomas Wimbush (17 points) and Mitchell (15 points) also notching solid games.
The Suns now hit the road again for another quick one-game trip, this time at Salt Lake City on Saturday at 7 p.m. MT. Long Island heads further west for the second game of a back-to-back set against the Santa Cruz Warriors at 8 p.m. MT.