Santa Cruz Warriors defeat Oklahoma City Blue in thrilling fashion
Santa Cruz, CA – It took a record-setting performance from the Santa Cruz Warriors to defeat the visiting Oklahoma City Blue 121-120 in front of a sellout crowd at Kaiser Permanente Arena on Wednesday. Game two will be played on Saturday in Oklahoma City at 5PM PST.
Chris Obekpa, finished with eight blocks, setting a new franchise record previously held by James Michael McAdoo (5) during the 2014-15 season. He also tied a D-League playoff record, also held by Greg Stiemsma set during the 2009-10 season.
Obekpa nearly finished with a triple-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds as well. When asked about tying the record for playoff blocks, Obekpa shrugged.
“I’ll just have to break it next time,” he said with a smile on his face.
Santa Cruz was led by Jabari Brown, who scored 36 points on 10-of-16 from the field to lead all scorers. The Warriors are now 10-0 with Brown in the lineup since he joined the team after the trade deadline.
The Warriors trailed early but took their first lead of the game at 19-18 with a pair of Brown free throws. They closed the first quarter on a 15-4 run to lead 28-22 after the first 12 minutes. The Warriors would extend their lead to 61-47 heading into the locker room at halftime. Most Valuable Player candidate Dakari Johnson led the Oklahoma City Blue with 13 points in the first half. He finished with 28 points overall.
Oklahoma City would come roaring back in the second half, as they cut Santa Cruz’s lead to two halfway through the third quarter, but a pair of three-pointers helped to extend the lead, 81-72, with 4:38 remaining in the third.
In a stunning play, Jabari Brown hit a near-halfcourt buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Warriors a 95-87 lead heading into the fourth.
Santa Cruz extended its lead to 14 with 7:28 to play, but a 15-0 run from Oklahoma City gave them their first lead since the first quarter, 107-106, with 4:35 to go.
A few key defensive stops were the difference late as well as a three-pointer from Brown and a critical layup from Pressey to close out the victory. Reggie Williams hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to one, but only 0.5 seconds remained and Santa Cruz simply had to inbound the ball to secure the win.
Williams finished with 16 points on 5-of-14 from the floor. Josh Huestis, on assignment from the Thunder, dropped 28 points on an efficient 9-of-14 from the field.
- Santa Cruz outrebounded Oklahoma City 57-43, winning the battle on the glass.
- Santa Cruz Warriors head coach Casey Hill said it’s unlikely to expect either Dennis Clifford or Elgin Cook to suit-up in the playoffs as they continue to deal with lingering injuries, including a bone bruise for Cook.
- Both teams had six players in double-figures Wednesday night.
- Damian Jones, on assignment from Golden State, struggled with foul trouble throughout the game and played only 17 minutes but was effective, shooting 7-of-9 from the floor for 14 points.
- Oklahoma City swept the regular season series 4-0 heading into Wednesday’s game.
Listen to Santa Cruz Warriors head coach Casey Hill, Jabari Brown, and Chris Obekpa post game after the team’s 121-120 victory over the Oklahoma City Blue.