SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The Northern Arizona Suns entered Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California, on a high note following their buzzer-beating game-winner, but they couldn’t keep the momentum going, as they lost at the Santa Cruz Warriors 99-92.
The Suns (2-5) fell behind early as the Warriors (7-0) shot 12-of-18 (.667) in the first. SCW also outrebounded NAZ 14-3 in the opening frame, as they jumped to a 31-21 lead. Both teams shot well in the second quarter, but again, SCW beat the Suns on the boards, this time 13-6. NAZ turned it over 10 times in the second frame that led to 13 points.
The third quarter swung in the Suns’ favor, as they shot 11-of-19 (.579) from the field and forced nine Warriors’ turnovers. Down 24 a few times in the third, the Suns went on a 15-0 run over the course of five minutes to make it a nine-point game. It was the in the fourth quarter, as poor shooting hampered both teams. The Suns forced eight turnovers while turning it over just once themselves, but they couldn’t capitalize on open opportunities. A big missed chance came with 55.9 seconds left, as Daniel Dixon drove to the hole with the Suns down 92-90, but after Dixon seemed to have the bucket in hand, Juan Toscano-Anderson came from behind for the block. Darius Morris made a layup on the ensuing possession before nailing a three-pointer after that to ice it for Santa Cruz.
The Suns forced 31 turnovers, scoring 37 points off of them, but had 20 turnovers themselves that led to 25 points. Santa Cruz outrebounded NAZ 48-25, as the Suns secured the fewest amount of rebounds in team history (was 26 at Santa Cruz on Feb. 28, 2018).
Peter Jok paced the Suns with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including 3-of-8 from distance. Jok has made multiple three-pointers in all seven games this year, now 23-of-47 (.489) from downtown. The 23 three-pointers put him in sixth place in the league for total three-point makes on the season.
George King followed his heroics on Friday with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting tonight, adding two steals.Jawun Evans got the start following his career-best shooting game and tallied 12 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.Daniel Dixon had a season-high 18 points off the bench on 8-of-15 shooting, to go with three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The Warriors improved to 7-0 to continue their best start in franchise history. They have defeated the Suns three times this season, remaining undefeated (5-0) all-time against NAZ at home. The fourth and final game between these two teams with be in Santa Cruz on Dec. 30.
Morris had it going for the Warriors once again with 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-6 from distance, six assists and four rebounds. Michael Gbinije notched 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting (4-of-5 from deep), five rebounds and two steals before fouling out. Three other Warriors scored in double figures from the eight who played, including Alen Smailagic (13 points, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks), Kendrick Nunn (12 points, eight rebounds) and Toscano-Anderson (11 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks).
The Suns return home for a pre-Thanksgiving battle against the Salt Lake City Stars on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. MT. The Warriors will get a test to their unblemished mark next, getting a road contest on the second game of a back-to-back set at the Stockton Kings tomorrow at 8 p.m. MT.