DES MOINES, Iowa — The Northern Arizona Suns shot the ball well inside, shot the ball well outside, shared the rock and dominated the boards, so in essence, they did everything right to get their first win of the 2018-19 season.
Playing their first road game of the campaign at the Iowa Wolves (0-3), the Suns (1-1) ran away after a tight first three quarters to win 106-95.
De’Anthony Melton became the second NAZ Suns player in team history to record a triple-double, as the Phoenix Suns’ assignee had 19 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 39 minutes. It marked the fourth triple-double in team history, as Josh Gray had the first three (one in 2016-17, two in 2017-18).
Peter Jok scored a new career-high 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, to go with six rebounds. Most of the damage came in the third quarter for Jok, who scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-of-6 from deep). No other Suns player scored more than two points in the frame. Jok bested his previous high of 22 points he dropped in Northern Arizona’s 2017-18 season finale on March 24 vs. Sioux Falls.
The Wolves got off to a strong start, taking a 30-24 lead after the first quarter. The Suns outrebounded Iowa 14-6 in the second frame while only turning it over twice to win it 30-19, taking a 54-49 lead into the locker room.
Jok and Derek Cooke Jr.’s six rebounds in the third marked the only bright spots for the Suns in the quarter, as the score got knotted up with 12 minutes to play. The fourth was all Northern Arizona, who shot 13-of-21 (.619) compared to Iowa’s 5-of-19 (.263) clip. Melton cemented his triple-double in the quarter by posting five points, six rebounds and five assists in the frame.
Overall, the Suns outshot the Wolves 42-of-85 (.494) to 33-of-85 (.388), outscored Iowa 58-36 in the paint, outshot the Wolves from distance 11-of-22 (.500) to 9-of-23 (.391), shared the rock (22 assists) and dominated the boards (56 rebounds to Iowa’s 34).
Cooke recorded his 14th career double-double and first since March 7, 2017, with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, 11 rebounds and three blocks. George King just missed out on a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Eric Stuteville led the bench with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and six rebounds. Jawun Evans (10 points, five rebounds), Daniel Dixon (four points, three rebounds) and Aaron Epps (four minutes played) all made their season debuts.
The Wolves were led by a trio that included a very familiar face. Darius Johnson-Odom led all scorers with 28 points and five assists. Canyon Berry tallied Iowa’s lone double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. The all-time three-point field goals leader in NAZ Suns history Xavier Silas played against his former team for the first time, posting 19 points.
This marked the first game of a back-to-back set for Northern Arizona, who travels to Sioux Falls to take on the Skyforce tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. MT. Iowa will head west to play their first road game of the season, where they’ll face the Santa Cruz Warriors on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT.