Kevon Looney Makes Return in Santa Cruz Warriors’ Loss to Bakersfield Jam


The Santa Cruz Warriors  were unable to defend their home floor despite Kevon Looney making his return to the team on Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night, the Santa Cruz Warriors returned to the Kaiser Permanente Arena parquet for a battle against the Bakersfield Jam. The Warriors were fresh off a back-to-back two game set against the Reno Bighorns, where each team defended their home floor.

The Warriors came into the match-up with a record of 14-23. However, the Warriors received a boost in talent and confidence, as Golden State Warriors first round draft pick, Kevon Looney was put on assignment to Santa Cruz just before the game.

Unfortunately, the return of Looney in a Santa Cruz jersey wasn’t enough for them to grab the win, as they fell to the Jam 108-104. Warriors guard, Verdell Jones III, led all scorers, dropping in 26 points on 10-for-22 from the field, with an impressive 4-for-8 from deep.

Santa Cruz dug themselves into a deep hole early as they found themselves down by as many as 20 points in the opening quarter. After the game, Head Coach Casey Hill spoke about his teams effort in that first period.

“A team like this you have to make them miss. You can’t just hope they miss, which is what we did in the first quarter. We hoped.”

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The Warriors fell down by as many as 24 in the game, but just when it looked like it was going to be a blow out loss for the Sea Dubs, they began to turn things around. They cut the lead down to seven late in the third quarter, but the Jam kept responding.

Finally, late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors cut their deficit down to two, but were never able to capture the lead. Coach Hill talked about what he saw from his team that he liked during that second half comeback effort.

“We stopped hoping. We started being more proactive in terms of trying to make the team miss,” Coach Hill said after the tough loss, “They started missing, and we started getting easy buckets because we started getting stops. It’s as simple as that.”

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In his first game back in Santa Cruz since New Years Eve, Looney tallied 11 points on 5-for-9 from the field, and grabbed eight boards. He even knocked down a triple, going 1-for-3 on the night from behind the arc. After the game, Looney talked about incorporating the three-point shot into his arsenal more.

“I feel comfortable shooting the ball. I shoot it great in practice, but that game speed is a little different. But I somehow want to incorporate that, be able to make an open shot,” Looney told us postgame, “I don’t want to just say I’m a three point shooter or specialist, but I want to be able to knock down the shot when it swings to me, and be able to operate on any part of the court.”

Next: Santa Cruz Warriors Split Weekend Series vs. Reno Bighorns

This game also marked the return of Mychel Thompson, brother of Klay Thompson, to Santa Cruz, who was playing overseas in Italy for Openjobmetis Varese. Thompson’s first game back in a Warriors jersey was on February 27th in Reno, where he tallied 16 points. On Wednesday, Thompson managed only 7 points on 3-for-12 shooting, including a dismal 0-for-7 from deep.

Daniel Nwalele, who is dealing with a lower back injury, missed his fifth straight game on Wednesday. Coach Hill addressed Nwalele’s injury and said there is no time table for his return.

“He’s got a back, a back injury, a lower back injury. You use your lower back in like every part of your life,” Coach told us, “So it’s just tough, he’s got to stay off of his feet, and he has a hard time doing that. He keeps tweaking it a little bit, so there’s no real time table on when he’s going to return. So we’re just keeping an eye on it and monitoring him day-to-day.”

The Warriors will leave the friendly confines of Santa Cruz for a back-to-back two game set against the Oklahoma City Blue on March 4th and 5th. Once that is complete they will head back home for a back-to-back against the Los Angeles D-Fenders and the Delaware 87ers, who will have newly signed guard and ex-Warrior, Baron Davis, who is attempting a comeback in the NBA.