SANTA CRUZ, CA –The Santa Cruz Warriors (22-8) saw career nights from guards Jacob Evans III and Kendrick Nunn, but fell short in the final minutes to the Stockton Kings 105-104 tonight at Stockton Arena. Despite the loss, Santa Cruz currently has their best record in franchise history through 30 games.
Evans III scored a career-high 24 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists. Nunn logged 30 points on 11-of-21 from the field (52.4 percent FG) as well as four rebounds, two assists and three steals.
The Kings were led by center Daniel Ochefu’s 23 points and 12 rebounds in just 31 minutes. Ochefu was an efficient 9-of-13 from the field (69.2 FG%), including 11 in the fateful fourth quarter. Six Kings scored in double figures, including 18 from Cameron Reynolds and 15 from reserve Reggie Hearn.
Despite allowing a league-best 30.8% from the behind the arc, Santa Cruz saw Stockton shoot 9-of-18 from three in the first half (50.0 % 3FG), propelling the Kings to a 53-52 halftime lead.
Santa Cruz then went on a 16-4 run in the third quarter, punctuated by a three-pointer at 3:29 by Evans III that marked his first career 20-point game and gave Santa Cruz their first lead since the opening minutes.
In the fourth quarter, Ochefu was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line to total 11 points and six rebounds. Hearn added 10 points, including a three with 53 seconds remaining that gave the Kings the lead for good. Hearn added two free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining to give the Kings a four-point lead that allowed the Kings to survive a Nunn corner three in the final seconds.
Santa Cruz will now return home to face the South Bay Lakers on Sunday, January 27 (5:00 p.m. PST, NBC Sports Bay Area) and host the team’s first-ever Latinx Heritage Night. For tickets to Sunday’s home game, visit santacruzbasketball.com or call (831) 713-4400.