Santa Cruz Warriors Gut Out Overtime Win in Home Finale


In their Wednesday night home finale, the Santa Cruz Warriors earned a 121-118 victory, but needed overtime to do so.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.— Head Coach Casey Hill seemed a bit more cheerful after Wednesday nights home finale— a 121-118 overtime win over over first place team in the Western Conference standings, the Reno Bighorns.

Three nights prior, the Santa Cruz Warriors were blasted by the Austin Spurs by the final score of 98-72, unable to recover from a 21-0 to start the game.

All signs pointed to Santa Cruz suffering a similar fate on Wednesday night. The Warriors found themselves down by as much as 15 and shot 30.4% in the first quarter alone.

It would be easy for a team who has no hopes of the postseason to just pack it in against the best team in the conference. But the Warriors, like their Golden State big brothers, are resilient and won’t wave the white flag until the final buzzer sounds.

The game was a gritty one. One that saw five lead changes, nine ties, and the Warriors leading by only as much as six. Once the Sea Dubs fell behind, they had to slowly crawl their way back. Even at halftime they found themselves down by 10.

Their second half effort is what won them the game.

“Well we came out of the halftime locker room with really good pace and energy. I think we started the third quarter on an 8-0 run which was great,” Coach Hill told reporters after the game, “We kind of put them on their heels and it took them awhile to kind of get themselves back to square one. We had some breakdowns in the first half that were killing us but we shored that up and that ended up being it.”

Resiliency was a theme for this one and after the game, point guard Aaron Craft mentioned exactly that. Craft finished the night with a triple double, putting up 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. The 21 points Craft scored was well above his 12.9 point per game average.

“I felt pretty good, minus the start. We have a bad habit of coming off some bad starts. It’s cost us some games, but this team is really resilient,” Craft said, “We’ve been through a lot. It would be really easy for us to just pack it in these last few games, but we fought hard, got back in the game. To win in overtime is pretty big against the division leading team.”

The Warriors grabbed a six point lead late in the fourth quarter after Craft knocked down two free throws with 3:23 left. When it looked like the Warriors were going to cruise to a victory, Reno was able to answer with a run of their own, tying the game with 2.1 seconds and sending it to overtime.

However, during the overtime period, Warriors forward Mychel Thompson took over. In the three minute overtime, Thompson had four of the teams seven points and helped propel them to a victory.

800 miles east, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors were finishing off their 68th win of the season, just as Santa Cruz was earning their 19th. While their records are vastly different this season, there was a special connection on Wednesday night.

Klay and his brother Mychel Thompson were both huge contributors to their respective team’s victories, both coming in overtime. On the same night that younger brother Klay hit the tying three pointer with 15 seconds left to send the game to overtime, older brother Mychel, was putting in a team high 28 points on 10-for-19 shooting.

“I actually knew during the game [that Klay hit the shot] because one of the fans courtside told me. It’s almost coming routine for my brother here. So we play good on the same days, it’s a blessing. I’m just happy to watch him do that and hopefully I can do that some more too.”

Three different Santa Cruz players hit the 20 point mark on Wednesday. Aside from Craft and Thompson, Darrington Hobson put in 20 of his own. Hobson also added eight rebounds, five assists, and helped their defensive effort by recording two blocks and a steal.

Rookie guard Terrence Drisdom played some productive minutes off of the bench as well. In 29 minutes, Drisdom put up 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He also recorded two blocks and a steal.

“He was good. He’s a young bouncy little guy,” Coach Hill said of Drisdom, “He’s going to be a pretty good player for us. He’s got to have a good summer.”

The Warriors have just two games remaining, both on the road, and both against the Idaho Stampede. The Sea Dubs won their last match-up with Idaho 107-96 on March 24th in Santa Cruz.

While these final two games mean nothing for the standings, as both teams have been eliminated from the playoffs, it will be a great opportunity to continue to develop some of the young guys Santa Cruz is hoping to have back for next season.

Next: Santa Cruz Warriors: The Ups and Downs of Being an NBA D-League Coach