EDINBURG, Texas – All the Northern Arizona Suns needed was the turn of the calendar for themselves to turn the page.
The NAZ Suns won their second straight game to start 2020, winning at the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in Edinburg, Texas, Friday night, 101-93. The Suns (4-16) improved to 2-0 against the Vipers (6-17) this season, now 7-5 against them all-time.
Tariq Owens scored a new career-high 18 points, surpassing his 17 scored against the Santa Cruz Warriors on Nov. 21. He scored it on 8-of-11 shooting, adding nine rebounds and a block. His former Texas Tech teammate, Norense Odiase, achieved his third career double-double with 10 points (4-7 FG) and 11 rebounds off the bench.
The Suns began this one shooting well from the field, making 11-of-21 (.524) in the opening quarter, finishing up 29-24. Things cooled off considerably in the second quarter, as the Suns made just 8-of-31 (.258) from the field. A 21-10 rebounding advantage in the frame, including 11 offensive rebounds, had the Suns drop their lead by just one point, with Northern Arizona up 50-46 at halftime.
Like last game, the Suns lost their halftime lead in the third quarter, with the Vipers winning the third 32-24. And, like last game, the Suns defense clamped down in the fourth quarter. The Suns allowed just 15 points on 6-of-19 (.316) shooting, making 12-of-21 (.571) themselves, winning the frame by 12.
The Suns pounded the boards 56-36, including 18 offensive rebounds. The 56 rebounds for the Suns are a season-high, and the 36 rebounds are the lowest by a Suns opponent this season. Northern Arizona didn’t light it up from the field, but they got 19 more field goal attempts than the Vipers. The Suns shot 41-of-93 (.441) from the field, outscoring the Vipers 72-44 in the paint (another season-high). The Vipers shot 32-of-74 (.432) from the field. The Suns have averaged 66 points in the paint over their last two games.
Eight Suns scored in double figures tonight, including three off the bench. Anthony Lawrence II recorded 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Trayvon Palmer had 11 points (4-8 FG), nine rebounds and two steals. ShawnDre Jones, who started for an injured Jared Harper (left hamstring), tallied 12 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Jalen Lecque notched 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Daxter Miles Jr. also had 12 points, to go with three rebounds and three steals.
The Vipers had two big scorers, with four scoring in double figures. Brandon Sampson led with 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Jaron Blossomgame recorded 20 points and 11 rebounds. Kerwin Roach led the team in assists with six, adding 11 points and six rebounds. Ray Spalding had 11 points off the bench, and William Howard had four steals.
The Suns will take their two-game winning streak back home against the Greensboro Swarm on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT. The Vipers will begin a three-game road trip at the Austin Spurs on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT.