Northern Arizona's Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (11) lays the ball over the rim as the Suns host Santa Cruz on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, in Prescott Valley. Hollis-Jefferson scored 23 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the field, was 7 of 11 from the free-throw line, grabbed six rebounds and had five steals in a 122-113 victory. (Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns)
Originally published Saturday, February 3, 2018 at 10:38p.m.
Goodwin scores 31 points; Suns convert 42 of 54 from free-throw line
Archie Goodwin scored 31 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had five assists, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson added 23 and a short-handed Northern Arizona club overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to shock visiting Santa Cruz 122-113 on Saturday night.
It is the fourth win in the last six games for the Suns, which won on back-to-back nights for the first time this season. Northern Arizona (15-18) claimed a 123-112 victory over Maine just 24 hours earlier in Prescott Valley.
Tied 50-50 at halftime, Santa Cruz (18-16) used a 32-15 run to begin the second half capped by a Quinn Cook 3-pointer to give his club a 82-65 lead with 3:31 to play in the third period.
But Northern Arizona wouldn’t quit, cutting the Warriors’ lead to six (88-82) thanks to a 17-6 run capped by a Hollis-Jefferson 3-pointer and a running layup by Goodwin to end the third.
“We get down by 17 points, and now all of a sudden we’re in a hole. At that particular point, our guys have an opportunity to mail it in. Right? Say hey, ‘We came, we tried, we gave a good effort, whatever. We don’t have that many guys,’” first-year Suns head coach Cody Toppert said, adding that with eight players active on the roster, two barely know the plays (Steven Green and Zach Andrews), so “realistically, we’re playing out here with six guys.”
“Our guys came out and showed an incredible amount of grit tonight. … I don’t know where they found it, where they got it,” Toppert said. “Their tanks were empty, but they found a little extra and I couldn’t be prouder of this win. I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of anything like this.”
In the fourth, Northern Arizona kept the pressure on, outscoring the Warriors 17-7 capped by a Hollis-Jefferson running layup to put the Suns up 99-95 with 7:32 to play and they never trailed again.
“It felt good. The guys out there, we played hard. We came together, stuck it out all the way to the end,” Hollis-Jefferson said.
The former Temple standout grabbed six rebounds and had five steals to go along with his point total, and was 7 of 11 from the free-throw line.
Northern Arizona made it to the line 54 times Saturday night, hitting 42, after the referees called 61 total fouls in the game.
“It helps a little bit, slows down the game. Guys are able to catch their breath a little bit knowing there’s only a couple of us,” Hollis-Jefferson said about the amount of foul calls. “It helps.”
Goodwin was 14 of 18 from the line on the game, while Xavier Silas, who played nearly every minute the last two nights, scored 27 points on 7 of 19 shooting from the field, including a 9 for 10 mark from the free-throw line.
For Santa Cruz, Cook scored 28 points on five 3-pointers, while Terrence Jones was 10 of 18 from the free-throw line for 28 points. The Warriors shot just 47 percent (40 of 85) from the field, including a dismal 6 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Northern Arizona welcomes Rio Grand Valley (20-16) to the Prescott Valley Event Center on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SportsWriter52 or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email email@example.com or call (928) 445-3333, ext. 1106.