SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The Santa Cruz Warriors (13-11) fell to the Salt Lake City Stars (7-17) 102-94 on Saturday night in front of a nineteenth consecutive sellout crowd at Kaiser Permanente Arena, splitting the back-to-back series 1-1.
The Warriors were paced by Dennis Clifford who led all scorers with 26 points and 8 rebounds. Phil Pressey contributed 24 points and 5 assists, while Damian Jones, on assignment from the Golden State Warriors, added 12 points and 4 rebounds.
Jermaine Taylor led the Stars with 21 points and 5 rebounds. Sundiata Gaines added 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Joel Bolomboy, on assignment from the Utah Jazz, (14 points, 15 rebounds) and Diamond Stone, on assignment from the Clippers, (14 points, 13 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles for Salt Lake City.
The Warriors got off to a hot start in the first quarter, shooting 64.7% from the field (including 60% from beyond-the-arc) while limiting the Stars to a 34.8% shooting effort. Santa Cruz led for all but the opening minute of the period. Dennis Clifford scored 11 of his 26 points in the quarter.
An 18-point swing would take place in the second period, as the Warriors fell to a 7-point deficit after leading by as many as 11 points to open the frame. The final 2:28 of the quarter saw back-and-forth scoring as the Warriors would retake the advantage to lead the Stars 58-57 heading into the break.
Santa Cruz would maintain their edge for the majority of the third quarter before a pull-up jumper from Jermaine Taylor gave the Stars the lead with 1:25 remaining in the frame.
Salt Lake City carried the momentum into the final frame, keeping Santa Cruz from eclipsing their lead for the remaining 12 minutes of play. A lay-up from Dennis Clifford at the 3:59 mark would bring the Warriors within one possession, but the comeback rally would fall short.
The Santa Cruz Warriors will travel to Mississauga, Ontario for the 2017 NBA D-League Showcase where they will face the Oklahoma City Blue on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m. PST on NBATV. They will play one more Showcase match-up on Saturday, Jan. 21 against the Texas Legends at 7:00 a.m. PST to be broadcast on Facebook Live.