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Northern Arizona Suns Hold Off Energy for Seventh Straight Win
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11 December 2016  
Photo Courtesy: Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns
NAZ Suns Still Undefeated At Home After Victory Against Iowa Energy

The Northern Arizona Suns completed a stretch in which they played three games in four days by beating the Iowa Energy and picking up their seventh consecutive win on Saturday night in front of 1,343 people at the Prescott Valley Event Center. The win didn t come easy as the team ended up losing a 20-point advantage in the fourth quarter and had to fight for the 113-107 victory.

When you have this many games in this many nights and we get up by 20 or 25, we lose focus, said Northern Arizona Suns guard Eli Millsap who scored 15 points in the win. It s all about refocusing and tuning in and just getting the win and getting out and we did that.

The Northern Arizona Suns came out of the gate hot as the team built a ten-point advantage in the first six minutes of the game and closed the first quarter with a 32-21 lead. The team continued the momentum in the second quarter entering the locker room at halftime with a 17-point lead.

The Suns still had control through most of the third quarter, actually having a 20 point advantage with two minutes left in the quarter, but the Iowa Energy found their groove at the end of the quarter and continued it into the fourth eventually tying the game at 96 with five minutes left in the game.

However, the Suns never trailed in the game and were able to hold onto the lead due to taking advantage of free throw opportunities-an area the team had struggled with lately-and good rebounding.

We just never lose our faith, never lose our discipline, even when things start going bad, said Derek Cooke Jr. who had eight points in the victory. We know that the way we have things set up-we have guys that can pick up the pace-guys that always do what they do best.

Northern Arizona Suns head coach Ty Ellis thought the game was a good test for the players in having the spotlight on them and dealing with adversity.

This type of game is going to happen again, it s only a matter of time, Ellis said. I told the guys every time we step on the court, we re playing the other team s best. Teams get up to play us. Teams watch video, they know what we are capable of. So they want to play their best against us.

This team Iowa, they played a really good game, they didn t give up, Ellis continued. All of this type of experience is good for the guys now and for the future.

Five players picked up double-digit points in the win for the Northern Arizona Suns. Derrick Jones Jr. lead the team with 23 points which including a few highlight reel slams, Johnny O Bryant picked up 19 points, Josh Gray-who was starting in place of Askia Booker on the night-and Xavier Silas each had 18 while Eli Millsap picked up 15 points.

Aside from the struggles in the fourth quarter of Saturday s game, things have been going smoothly for the Northern Arizona Suns lately. The team has won seven straight games, sit atop of the standings in the entire NBA D-League and has remained undefeated at home.

While these accomplishments are nice for the team, Ellis is looking to keep his guys wanting more by breaking down the schedule in five-game increments.

If we break down the season in five-game increments, I think that puts us in a position to really focus, Ellis said. I told them whatever happened the last few days means nothing. So right now starts the next five-game increment and right now we are 0-0.

The Northern Arizona Suns (10-1) complete the five-game home stand on Wednesday night at the Prescott Valley Event Center with a matchup against the Santa Cruz Warriors (4-7). Tip-off is 6:30pm. People who are interested in attending can buy tickets at the door, or purchase them online.

All Photos by Matt Hinshaw @ Hinshaw Photography unless noted otherwise.

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