Santa Cruz Warriors Lose Pair of Games During D-League Showcase

Aaron Craft, Santa Cruz Warriors
Aaron Craft, Santa Cruz Warriors /

The Santa Cruz Warriors dropped two games at home while hosting the NBA D-League Showcase.

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The Santa Cruz Warriors served as unfortunate hosts of the 2016 NBA D-League Showcase, losing both of their scheduled games at Kaiser Permanente Arena. The Sea Dubs drop to 10-12 on the season, good enough for second in the Pacific Division, fifth in the Western Conference and 12th overall in the D-League.

Santa Cruz’s first Showcase game came against the Iowa Energy, who had just come off a win over the second-best team in the league, the Austin Spurs, just two days prior. Santa Cruz hasn’t fared quite as well as Iowa as of late, having lost six straight games before winning their last contest on the road against the Westchester Knicks. The Warriors have also been forced to look for a new player to fill the 28-point void left by Elliot Williams, who’s currently on a 10-day contract with his hometown Memphis Grizzlies.

Despite Darington Hobson posting a near triple-double with 24 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, Santa Cruz’s struggles continued on Friday, losing to Iowa 101-89. Daniel Nwaelele, who’s been spectacular for Santa Cruz offensively in the past few games, recorded 21 points on the night, and Aaron Craft made his debut for Santa Cruz by recording eight points and eight assists.

Talking to the media after the game, Craft talked about how it felt to be back playing for the D-League after playing overseas basketball with the Szolnoki Olaj in Hungary.

"“It feels good. Obviously, it feels better if we win. But it feels good to get back into rhythm,” Craft said."

Iowa’s starting five played impressively against the Warriors, each scoring in double-digits. Big man Alex Stepheson was their leading scorer, posting a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Andrew Harrison had a great overall game, recording 20 points, nine assists and six boards, while Joel Wright contributed 19 points and seven rebounds.

Santa Cruz had little time to rest in between games as they prepared to face the Sioux Falls Skyforce the following day. Playing against the Warriors, Sioux Falls continued to show why they’ve only lost three games all season and currently hold the best record in the D-League, defeating the Warriors 102-81.

Verdell Jones III paced the Warriors, scoring 17 points to go with his seven rebounds off the bench. Darington Hobson dropped in 16 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Anthony Vereen added in 11 points.

On assignment from the Miami Heat, Josh Richardson was the game’s co-leader in scoring, dropping 21 points in a +25 performance against Santa Cruz. Also a +25 for Sioux Falls was Jarnell Stokes, who recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 boards.

Santa Cruz head coach Casey Hill, though visibly disappointed, retained his sense of humor after suffering the blowout against the Skyforce, comparing Sioux Falls to his championship team last season.

"“I think now I know how it felt to play against us last year,” Hill said with a smile.“That’s humbling. It’s good. It’s up to us to decide how we’re gonna use this.”"

The Santa Cruz Warriors will go on a three game road trip starting with Idaho Stampede on Tuesday. The game will tip off at 6 PM/PT at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, ID. Sea Dubs fans not in Boise will be able to catch the game via Youtube.

For footage of the entire game between Santa Cruz and Sioux Falls, click the video below to watch: