SANTA CRUZ, CA – The Santa Cruz Warriors, the NBA G League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, concluded their 2018-19 season with a 144-125 loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the Western Conference Finals. With the single-elimination loss at Bert Ogden Arena, the Sea Dubs fall to 1-3 against RGV this season and 2-4 all-time in the NBA G League Playoffs.
Guard Kendrick Nunn scored a game-high 29 points off the bench on 12-of-23 from the field (52.2 percent shooting), to go with five assists and a team-high three steals. Guard Darius Morris scored 21 points with a game-high-tying seven assists, and two-way guard Damion Lee notched 12 points, six rebounds and six assists tonight.
The Vipers saw a rare triple-double by guard Gary Payton II, who secured 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 steals in 33 minutes. Rio Grande Valley made 22 three-pointers tonight, featuring six makes by forward Dakarai Tucker (team-high 28 points) and six by guard Michael Frazier (24 points). Houston Rockets assignment player Isaiah Hartenstein contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds in the winning effort.
Santa Cruz scored a season-high-tying 38 points in the first quarter to take a 38-32 lead, thanks to 13 points off of eight RGV turnovers. Both teams shot over 50.0 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three, with the Vipers taking most of their shots from behind the arc (12-of-24 FG, 6-of-15 3FG).
The Vipers made up the difference and then some with a 43-point second quarter, forcing 12 Santa Cruz turnovers for 14 points and holding a 6-1 offensive rebounding advantage. Rio Grande Valley’s 43 second quarter points is the most Santa Cruz has allowed in a single-frame since giving up 45 against the Texas Legends on January 5, 2019.
Santa Cruz was never able to make up the difference in the second half, as Michael Frazier’s 19 points on five three-pointers helped the Vipers build a 28-point lead to secure the victory. Morris (17 points) and Nunn (16) scored half of the 66 Warriors points in the half, but couldn’t help the team get hot from deep, as the Sea Dubs shot 30.8 percent from three (4-of-13 3FG) to close the night.
Santa Cruz ends the 2018-19 regular season with a 34-16 regular season record, just one win shy of the most wins in franchise history (35; 2014-15) and with an ongoing 77-game home sellout streak at Kaiser Permanente Arena. For more information on the Santa Cruz Warriors Playoffs, presented by Kaiser Permanente, visitsantacruzbasketball.com or call (831) 713-4400.