Hilliard leads Spurs past Suns


PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. — The Northern Arizona Suns haven’t had many bad nights shooting the ball coming into Tuesday night’s matchup against the Austin Spurs, averaging the most points in the league (123.2 PPG).

But tonight was a shooting night for the Suns to forget, as they finished 35-of-100 (.350) from the field and 13-of-43 (.302) from beyond the arc in their 101-98 loss to the Spurs at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

Both teams started this one cold, as the Suns led 20-18 after the first frame. NAZ shot 7-of-25 (.280), while Austin shot 8-of-22 (.364). It was more of the same in the second quarter, but the Spurs changed everything in the third, winning the frame 39-28 thanks to 17-of-26 (.654) shooting. Darrun Hilliard was the main reason for Austin’s third quarter success, scoring 18 points in the quarter alone on 8-of-10 shooting.

The Suns trailed 87-73 with just over 10 minutes remaining before they stormed back, going on a 25-8 run to lead by three with 1:25 left in the game. Hilliard won the game for Austin, however, scoring a lay-up with 38.2 seconds left, a short jumper with 16.1 seconds left and two good free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining. Alec Peters attempted a 38-foot three-pointer at the buzzer, but it was off the mark.

Hilliard scored a game-high 38 points on 15-of-28 shooting, to go with eight rebounds and four assists.

Two-Way player Matt Costello earned his third double-double of the year with 12 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. The Austin Spurs are now 6-1 this season when Costello plays (0-2 when he is with San Antonio). Jaron Blossomgame secured a game-high 13 rebounds (all defensive) and Jeff Ledbetter led the Spurs’ bench with 10 points.

Xavier Silas scored a team-high 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting, to go with six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Derrick Jones Jr. achieved his second double-double of the season with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Askia Booker flirted with a triple-double, tallying 11 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

Also earning double-digit scoring for NAZ were Mike Young (11 points) and Shaquille Harrison (10 points). Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson continues to show why he won Defensive Player of the Year honors in Canada last season by tallying seven points, six rebounds, five steals and three blocks tonight. Peters had eight points and 11 boards.