SANTA CRUZ, CA –The Santa Cruz Warriors (16-6) went on a 26-4 run in the third quarter against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (13-9) but couldn’t bring that momentum into the final frame as the team fell 97-89 tonight at Bert Ogden Arena. Tonight was the first game of the team’s ten-day, four-game Texas road trip to start the New Year.
Warriors two-way guard Damion Lee scored a team-high 22 points tonight to go with four rebounds tonight. Two-way forward Marcus Derrickson contributed 17 points and guard Darius Morris, who celebrates his 28th birthday today, logged four points and a team-high eight assists.
Vipers forward Vincent Edwards scored a team-high 20 points and center Isaiah Hartenstein had 16 points and 14 rebounds tonight. The Vipers saw all five starters score in double figures and score 84 of the team’s 97 points, including guard Gary Payton II’s 18 points to go with 10 assists and forward Bruno Caboclo’s 16 points and seven blocked shots.
Despite shooting just 36.0 percent from the field (9-of-25 FG) in the first quarter, Santa Cruz forced nine Vipers turnovers en route to 10 fast break points to give the team a 20-18 lead. The Vipers dominated the second frame, scoring 36 points while Santa Cruz shot just 5-of-18 from the floor to go into the locker room with a 54-37 lead.
The Warriors big third quarter run was sparked by nine forced turnovers and holding the Vipers to just 26.1 percent shooting from the field, including 2-of-14 from deep (14.3 percent). Derrickson scored 11 points during that 26-4 run as Santa Cruz tied the game 68-68 after three.
However, Santa Cruz was not able to bring their third quarter momentum into the fourth as they shot just 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) from the field and Vipers guard Michael Frazier went 3-of-5 from deep in the quarter for nine points, with all three buckets either tying or taking the lead for the home team.
The Santa Cruz Warriors will continue their ten-day Texas road trip on Saturday, January 5 against the Texas Legends (tip-off 5:30 p.m. PST) at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco. The team will return to Santa Cruz to host the Austin Spurs on Wednesday, January 16 (7:00 p.m. PST) with the first 1,500 fans in attendance that night receiving a Splash Brothers bobblehead. For tickets to all Warriors home games, visit santacruzbasketball.com or call (831) 713-4400.