PRESCOTT VALLEY – The Salt Lake City Stars entered Friday night’s game against the Northern Arizona Suns with the top overall defensive ranks in steals and turnovers forced per game. The Stars showed it the first half but were unable to continue that defense and the Suns poured it on in a big second half to win 91-80.
The Stars led much of the game by double-digits, and were able to hold the NAZ Suns to just 38 points in the first half, a big difference from the Suns’ 122-point scoring performance in their first regular season game against the Iowa Energy on Nov. 12.
But the Suns got it going in the second half, scoring 53 points, including 30 of those in the fourth quarter. The Suns outscored the Stars 53-34 in that second half in front of 1,015 fans who were there to witness the first home game in Salt Lake City Stars franchise history at the Lifetime Activities Center-Bruin Arena.
Johnny O’Bryant got things started right away for the Suns, scoring 12 points in the first quarter. He had 16 of the Suns’ 38 points in the first half, and finished the game with 20 points before fouling out.
O’Bryant was one of two Suns players to achieve 20 or more points for the game, as guard Askia Booker led the team with 21 points. He was one of the sparks in the second half, scoring 16 in the final 24 minutes, including nine in the fourth quarter.
Elijah Millsap and Josh Gray constantly kept getting to the hole and being pests on the defensive end, and each was rewarded for it. Millsap finished the game with a double-double, earning 12 points and 11 rebounds. Gray was the lone reserve to score in double figures, and finished the game with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists.
The Stars were led by reserve Jermaine Taylor and his 20 points. He was the lone player for Salt Lake to eclipse the 20-point mark.
Marcus Paige was the highest-scoring starter, as he dropped 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting, but was plagued with nine turnovers.
The Stars dropped to 0-3 to start the season, and join four other teams to have three losses; Greensboro Swarm, Reno Bighorns, Canton Charge and Iowa Energy.
The Suns and Stars have no time to think about this one, as they travel to Prescott Valley for a quick rematch Saturday night at 7 p.m.