Skyforce Ride off into Sunset with Double Overtime Triumph
Normally one chapter would suffice to describe a basketball game. The Sioux Falls Skyforce 120-118 double overtime win over Northern Arizona Friday night is worth volumes.
Let’s begin with the power move of the Suns (7-13) early by building a lead of eighteen points before halftime. Sioux Falls (9-12) made up ground in the third quarter, gave it back at the beginning of the fourth before knotting the game at 108 on two free throws from Alonzo Gee with 38.1 seconds left in regulation.
Missed Skyforce free throws both on purpose and accidentally plus a failed Suns attempt on a lob play from out of bounds that went through the hoop without anyone touching it set the stage for a basket and foul that put the Suns’ Shaquille Harrison at the line with 0.4 seconds to go with the score tied at 110. Harrison did not intend to miss, but did which forced overtime.
Near the end of the first overtime a late three pointer by Josh Gray put the Suns on top 116-114. With 0.9 seconds to spare, it was Skyforce guard Ike Nwamu in the spotlight who was fouled attempting his own long distance try.
“In that situation, all you can think about is your technique. First, make sure you are shooting with the right mechanics.” Nwamu made the first two to tie, but misfired on the third. “That last one, I shot it a little long.”
Overtime number two contained even more drama when fatigue probably led to a turnover on each side within the final thirty seconds with Sioux Falls up by two. Northern Arizona evened the score at 118 with 11.9 seconds left. However Tony Mitchell stepped up to knock down two free throws with 3.6 seconds left.
The Skyforce defense came through with two late blocks to preserve the win. The first was Nwamu who came in from the side to knock an attempt for the win away from Xavier Silas.
“That was just pure instinct. We’re just out there just trying to get a win in whatever way possible. No game plan or scheme, just out there playing ball.”
Erasing all doubt was Rodney Pryor who thwarted a shot in the lane by Mike Young. Soon after, the buzzer created bliss for the hosts and Coach Nevada Smith praised his team for finding a way to win.
“Our energy was so much better (tonight). Even when they made runs, we had some miscommunications, but we played really hard. To hold a team like that to 40 percent is pretty good.”
If not for foul trouble that saddled Alec Peters (26 points on 10-13 shooting), the Suns might have been able to withstand the Skyforce onslaught. Nonetheless, Silas had 23 and Young dropped in 18 points to lead the visitors.
Nwamu’s 29 points stood tall for Sioux Falls followed by Tony Mitchell’s near triple-double line of 23 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. Pryor’s block that ended the game was his fourth of the night to go with 20 points. Another noteworthy performance was the first professional double-double for Jimmie Taylor (13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks).
Both teams will return to the court on New Year’s Eve. Sioux Falls will be home to face the Oklahoma City Blue and Northern Arizona heads to Memphis.