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Fourth Quarter Woes Sink NAZ Suns Against Red Claws

10 February 2017  
Photo by Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns

Elijah Millsap’s 27 points and career-high 17 rebounds not enough for Northern Arizona

PORTLAND, Maine. -- The Northern Arizona Suns led most of the game against the Maine Red Claws at the Portland Expo Building on Thursday night, even leading by five points after the third quarter. They got outscored in the final frame 24-13, however, and lost to the Eastern Conference’s second best team 97-91.

Elijah Millsap got off to a big start, entering halftime with 20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Because of his play, the Suns had a 58-48 lead after the first 24 minutes, even though they were just shooting 37.5 percent from the field.

The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair, but the Red Claws came up on top 25-20.

The final frame is where the Suns let the game get away. NAZ was only able to shoot 6-for-22 (.273) from the field, 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, and only managed to hit one free throw. They also had six turnovers in the final 12 minutes, which equaled their total from the first 36 minutes of the game.

Millsap ended up finishing with a career-high 17 rebounds to go with his 27 points, three assists and three steals. Gracin Bakumanya also had a career-high 10 rebounds, while Derek Cooke Jr. earned a double-double with 11 points and 15 boards.

Maine’s Ryan Kelly, who was playing in his fifth game of the season, scored 32 points on 9-of-13 shooting, plus 11-for-11 from the free throw line, to go with nine rebounds, which was too much for the Suns to handle.

Kelly was one of just three Red Claws to finish in double figures, but all three had huge games. Jalen Jones earned a double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds, while Abdel Nader tallied 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

For the Suns, Xavier Silas (17 points), Askia Booker (14 points) and Josh Gray (10 points) rounded out the double-digit scoring for the Suns.

Both teams play the Westchester Knicks in their next game. The Red Claws get the first crack at the Knicks tomorrow at 6 p.m. MT in Maine, while the Suns will be in the same arena a day later at 3 p.m. MT.