Santa Cruz Warriors Beat Baron-less Delaware 87ers

Santa Cruz Warriors v. Delaware 87ers (PC: Ryan Viera
Santa Cruz Warriors v. Delaware 87ers (PC: Ryan Viera /

The Santa Cruz Warriors defeated the Delaware 87ers 132-117 last Sunday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena.

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The reigning D-League champion Santa Cruz Warriors defeated the Delaware 87ers in front of a sellout crowd last Sunday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena, winning 132-117. The game was meant to be as a homecoming of sorts for former Golden State Warriors player Baron Davis, who was unfortunately unable to play due to injury.

Xavier Henry was the leading scorer for Santa Cruz on Sunday, posting 25 points, five steals and a game-high +20 performance. Cliff Alexander, on assignment from the Portland Trail Blazers, had 21 points on the night, while Luis Montero, the other assignee from the Blazers, added in 17 points.

Verdell Jones III contributed 18 points in the win over Delaware, Darington Hobson had 16 points, and Kevon Looney posted eight points, three boards, two blocks, and two steals. Aaron Craft recorded a double-double, finishing with 10 points and 12 assists.

Each of Delaware’s starters scored in double digits against the Warriors. The leading scorers for the game was Sam Thompson, who had 26 points, and Russ Smith, who dropped 26 points and 14 assists. Christian Wood had 23 points against the Warriors, Ty Greene added 15 points, and David Laury posted 10 points.

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Coming off a loss to the Los Angeles D-Fenders just the night before, Santa Cruz was able to get off to the quick lead over the 87ers, ending the first quarter up by two. The Warriors ended the half up four points after leading by as much as ten in the second quarter.

The game remained tightly contested as both teams continued to go back and forth. It wasn’t until near the end of the third quarter that Santa Cruz was able to put together a 27-7 scoring run, pushing their lead to as many as 21 points at just about the two minute mark. The start of the fourth quarter saw Delaware cut the deficit to nine points, but the Warriors would keep their composure, extending their lead to as many as 24 points before the end of the contest.

Talking to Cliff Alexander after the game, the 6-foot-9 power forward said he felt good about the win, keeping in mind he’s only played two games thus far with Santa Cruz.

“I felt pretty good,” Alexander said after being asked how he felt about his and the team’s performance. “The team got involved real good. The bench showed a lot of energy, got out and ran, got a few stops, just played great defense.”

Asking him about how this experience with Santa Cruz fits into his development as an NBA prospect, Alexander said he just focused on doing what he does best: being athletic, and being a great defensive player. Asking him whether more opportunities like the one he has in Santa Cruz could be beneficial to him and other guys in Portland that may not get as many minutes, Alexander affirmed the notion while also expressing praise for his teammate, Luis Montero.

“Luis, he’s one of the other guys that was coming in suits behind the bench; he came out and played a good game tonight,” Alexander said. “He also played a good game last night. So it’s just a good [opportunity] on our behalf.”

[Speaking of good opportunities, as much as I love Alexander and Montero playing for Santa Cruz, Portland HAS to get a D-League affiliate of their own. Maybe in Seattle, perhaps? Make it happen Blazers!]

While Alexander and Montero have been welcome additions to the team, their tenure in Santa Cruz could be coming to a close quite soon according to head coach Casey Hill.

“I think maybe two more games,” Hill said when asked how long he thought Alexander and Montero would remain in Santa Cruz. “But we’ll see. You never know. With another team they’re tethered to, you never know what might happen.”

The Santa Cruz Warriors will be back in action at Kaiser Permanente Arena on Friday, March 18 at 7:00 PM/PT.

Also: Kevon Looney has been recalled by the Golden State Warriors.