Santa Cruz Warriors Fall Short in Season Finale

Mandatory Credit: Angelo Mendoza, Blue Man Hoop
Mandatory Credit: Angelo Mendoza, Blue Man Hoop /

The Santa Cruz Warriors closed out the 2015-16 season with two losses against the Idaho Stampede.

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The Santa Cruz Warriors (19-31) dropped to last in the Pacific Division this past weekend after dropping both games of a back-to-back series away from home against the Idaho Stampede (20-30). The reigning D-League champions end the 2015-16 regular season tied for last place in the Western Conference.

Santa Cruz went into CenturyLink Arena last Friday night following a 121-118 Wednesday night overtime victory at home against the Reno Bighorns — their last game at Kaiser Permanente Arena for the year. In that game, Mychel Thompson finished as the leading scorer, posting a season-high 28 points. Darington Hobson posted 20 points, and Aaron Craft was coming off his first triple-double of the season, posting 21 points, 11 rebounds, and a season-high 13 assists.

The game on Friday was played all the way down the stretch, beginning much like the game on Wednesday with the Warriors fighting an uphill battle from the start of the contest then coming back at the end to force overtime. With 1:24 left in the game, the game remained tied at 100 apiece, and it looked as if there would be a second overtime period.

However, Phil Pressey was able to hit a three to give the Stampede the lead with just a little over a minute left, after which point, his team found a home at the charity stripe to close out the game to win 108-104.

Verdell Jones III was the leading scorer for Santa Cruz, posting 27 points. Four other Warriors recorded double-digit scoring efforts, including Xavier Henry (17), Aaron Craft (15), Mychel Thompson (11), and Darington Hobson (10).

Corey Hawkins was the leading game scorer, tallying 37 points for the Stampede. Phil Pressey had 20 points on the night, while Jeremy Williams and Treveon Graham dropped in 14 points each.

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The following the night was more of the same for the Warriors as they were forced into an early deficit. Santa Cruz proved resilient, outscoring Idaho 24-19 in the third quarter. Despite taking the 77-76 lead with 51 seconds to go in Q3, the Warriors were unable to remain ahead going into the fourth, eventually failing to retake the lead by the end of the contest.

Pacing the Warriors in his last performance for Santa Cruz, Darington Hobson recorded a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Aaron Craft posted 19 points, Mychel Thompson had 17, Verdell Jones tallied 15 points on the night, and Terrence Drisdom and Xavier Henry dropped in 12 points and 11 points, respectively.

Corey Hawkins once again led all scorers, this time posting 25 points in the win for Idaho. Treveon Graham was right behind him, dropping in 23 points, while JJ O’Brien tallied 18 points. Tibor Pleiss recorded a double-double with 12 points and 14 boards.