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Back-and-Forth Affair Doesn’t Go the Suns Way Against Texas
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14 November 2019   Jake Withee

There were 13 lead changes and 11 ties, Suns fall 117-113 to Legends

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – Each quarter of play was separated by two points or less, but the Northern Arizona Suns came out on the wrong end of a 117-113 score against the Texas Legends.

The Suns (0-2) fell at the Findlay Toyota Center for the second straight time this season, this one on Wednesday against the Legends (1-2). 

Like Saturday, the Suns got off to a good start, quickly getting a double-digit lead midway through the first frame. With Texas down 21-11, the Legends went on a 9-0 run to get right back in it, and at the first quarter buzzer, Aric Holman made a half-court shot to tie it at 27 apiece. Neither team led by more than seven in the second quarter, with the Legends taking a 56-54 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter was more of the same, with Texas taking a three-point lead into the fourth quarter. Midway through the final frame, Texas took its biggest lead at 12 points, but the Suns got right back in it with an 11-0 run to make it 109-108 Legends with 1:16 left. Texas missed a few free throws to give the Suns a chance, but Northern Arizona was never able to take advantage to pose a real threat in the closing seconds.

Jared Harper led the Suns in scoring for the second straight game to start the year, pouring in 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-9 from distance, to go with two rebounds. He has the most points (61) through the first two games of a Suns player’s career in team history, surpassing Danuel House’s 53 points over his first two games with Northern Arizona.

Tariq Owens was a menace all game, finishing with 14 points (5-8 FG), 15 rebounds and three blocks. He’s the first player in Suns history with 15+ rebounds and 3+ blocks in a game. Only two players in team history have had 15+ rebounds and 2+ blocks (Aaron Epps and Mike Young). Through two games, Owens is averaging 12.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

Ahmed Hill made his Suns debut after joining the team on Sunday. He came off the bench to tally 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting (2-4 3PT) and three rebounds. Also off the bench with solid games were ShawnDre Jones (12 points, 5-10 FG, eight assists) and Norense Odiase (10 points, 4-6 FG, three rebounds). Jalen Lecque had 14 points, five assists and four rebounds in his second start. Trayvon Palmer secured 10 rebounds on his birthday, adding six points and four assists.

The Suns shot the ball well for the second straight game, this time 45-of-89 (.506) from the field. Through two games, they are 88-of-176 (.500) from the floor. Texas shot 46-of-107 (.430), getting 18 more attempts due to turnovers (20-13) and offensive rebounds (19-11). Texas turned in 29 points off of the 20 turnovers.

Xavier Rathan-Mayes led all scorers with 31 points on 14-of-25 shooting (1-8 3PT), to go with seven assists, four rebounds and three steals. Dakota Mathias turned in 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting (5-12 3PT) and five rebounds. Just two other Legends scored in double figures. Isaiah Roby had a double-double with 11 points (3-13 FG), 10 rebounds and three steals. Nate Mason led the bench with 11 points.

The Suns will stay at home to complete their three-game homestand to open their 2019-20 campaign. They’ll host the defending NBA G League champions, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on Sunday at 3 p.m. MT. Texas next plays at the Iowa Wolves on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT.