Santa Cruz exacts revenge, defeat Texas Legends 135-121
Santa Cruz, CA – After being “punched in the mouth” as Santa Cruz Warriors head coach Casey Hill described Friday night, the Warriors responded with a shot of their own with a 135-121 victory over the visiting Texas Legends.
With the victory the Warriors (26-19) now have a half-game lead over the Sioux Falls Skyforce for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Legends (23-21) trail Santa Cruz by 2.5 games for the final playoff spot.
Jabari Brown, off the bench, led Santa Cruz with 26 points on 9-of-13 from the field with five rebounds and five assists as well.
Three players netted double-double performances for the Warriors in the victory including Phil Pressey (13 points, 12 assists), Kevon Looney, on assignment from Golden State, (12 points, 10 rebounds), and James Southerland (17 points, 11 rebounds).
It was an intense game as a Ben Gordon flagrant foul set the tone early in this game, it was going to be a physical, brutal battle as both teams fought with playoff stakes on the line for both teams.
Jameel Warney started hot for Texas with 10 points after the first quarter. Ben Gordon also dropped buckets early with 12 points in the same span. Warney finished with 20 points and nine rebounds for the Legends, while Gordon finished with a team-high 25 points in the defeat.
Scott Wood paced Santa Cruz early with eight points as both teams exchanged leads in the first half. Wood drilled a three-pointer to tie the game at 51 apiece halfway through the second quarterTexas responded with 10-2 run of their own to take a 61-53 lead late in the first half. The Legends would ultimately take a 68-61 lead into the locker room at halftime as Gordon netted 20 points to lead his team.
Jabari Brown and Alex Hamilton, both off the bench, led Santa Cruz with 11 points apiece for the Warriors in the first 24 minutes. Wood also dropped 11 points as well.
The Warriors came out hot in the third quarter with a 15-5 run to take a 76-73 lead capped off by a Stephane Lasme technical free throw hit by Wood. They would outscore Texas 37-22 in the frame.
Southerland paced the Warriors in the third with 17 points on 5-of-6 from the field, including a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range.
The Warriors struck first in the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 19 in the final frame. After entering the fourth quarter shooting 8-of-20 from three-point range, Santa Cruz drilled 5-of-11 shots from long range. Texas shot 34% from three-point range (16-of-47) in the loss.
Listen to Hill and Brown in their post-game interviews after the Warriors’ victory: