SHAWN LONG AND RUSS SMITH POUR IN 25 EACH, BUT SEVENS FALL TO SUNS
By Varun Raghupathi, 24/Sevens Insider
NEWARK, DE – The Delaware 87ers (16-15) lost their first meeting of the year with the Northern Arizona Suns (14-15) 126-105 on Education Day presented by Delaware Solid Waste Authority at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. The game was played in front of a record-setting 4,104 fans, most of them students.
Shawn Long and Russ Smith led the way with 25 points apiece. Long added 11 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the year. The recently-named D-League All-Star got off to a slow start and was plagued by early foul trouble, but still managed to have his typical strong game.
On the other side, the Suns’ guards had a field day, with Askia Booker, Shaquille Harrison and Xavier Silas all finishing in double figures and getting to the basket with ease. Booker had 19 points, Harrison ended up with a career-high 24 and Silas had 11.
“I think they did a great job of playing their game,” Head Coach Eugene Burroughs said. “One of the keys to the game for us was trying to keep them out of the paint, and I thought they did a great job of attacking the paint. I think they had 72 paint points, which is really high, so they did a great job of pretty much just getting to their spots.”
Northern Arizona’s 72 points in the paint far out-classed Delaware’s 54 paint points. The Sevens also lost the turnover battle, coughing it up 20 times while only forcing 11 miscues. The Suns came into the game second-best in the D-League at protecting the ball, making Delaware’s quest for forced turnovers even more difficult.
“We’re not a team that turns over the other team very much anyway,” Burroughs said. “I think, for us, it’s like ‘can we get stops and rebounds and use that to attack’? That kind of leads our transition game.
“We’ve been trying to keep our turnovers down. We try to stress making simple plays. I think today we just had some balls that we just misplayed. Shawn had a couple in his hands where he goes to lay it in and it falls out of his hands. So, those things happen.”
The Suns shot better than 54 percent from the field and went 9-19 from three-point range. Northern Arizona started the game with a 31-point first quarter and finished with a 39-point showing in the fourth.
“Against a team like that, you have to get stops,” Burroughs said. “You have to force them to shoot contested shots so you can get rebounds and try to push down the other end. Today, I think we did neither. We didn’t get the stops and we didn’t get the rebounds and it made for a long day.
The Suns gained the lead midway through the first quarter and never gave it up. To make matters worse, Dionte Christmas left the game in the first half due to an ankle injury. He was seen on crutches after the game, but no update has been made available regarding his health.
The Sevens’ home stand continues on Friday when Canton comes to town for First Responders Night, presented by Delaware Citizen Corps. Tipoff is schedule for 7 p.m. ET.