SANTA CRUZ, CA –The Santa Cruz Warriors (8-0) scored 65 points in the second half, leading another second half comeback to beat the Salt Lake City Stars (4-4) 110-104 tonight at Kaiser Permanente Arena. With the win, the Warriors tie the 2013-14 Idaho Stampede, who relocated to Salt Lake City in 2016, for the second-best start in NBA G League history.
Guard Darius Morris, who earned his first NBA G League Player of the Week award this last Monday, scored a game-high 24 points on 8-of-17 from the field (47.0 FG%) and a team-high nine assists in 35 minutes. Morris scored the lead-taking three to end the third period and ten in the final 3:30 minutes to secure the game for Santa Cruz.
Salt Lake City was led by forward Willie Reed, who had a team-high 23 points on 11-of-15 from the field (73.3 FG%) with a game-high 14 rebounds in 30 minutes. All five Stars starters scored in double figures, including two-way guard Naz Mitrou-Long with 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
Tonight’s game started off fast and physical, with two-way forward Marcus Derrickson shouldering the scoring load with eight points and two three-pointers in the opening frame, but a Tyler Cavanaugh three gave the Stars a 27-26 first quarter lead.
The Stars broke the game open with a 14-1 run in the second period before head coach Aaron Miles called a time-out with 2:34 left and the lead ballooned to 12. Santa Cruz responded after the stoppage with a 9-0 run to end the half, including a fast-break alley oop from Morris to forward Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Morris scored 20 of Santa Cruz’s 65 second half points, with reserve guard Kendrick Nunn chipping in 10 points off the bench and center Deyonta Davis also collecting 10, eight of those in the third period. Despite Reed’s 14 points and Stephaun Branch’s 10 points on perfect shooting (4-of-4 FG, 2-of-2 3FG), the Stars couldn’t overcome a 21-0 free throw disparity in the second half as Santa Cruz won their eighth straight.
The Warriors will now travel south to play the Agua Caliente Clippers on Monday, November 26 in Ontario, California (7:00 p.m., Facebook Live). The team will then return next weekend for a home back-to-back against the Texas Legends, with the first 1,500 fans to arrive at Kaiser Permanente Arena Friday night receiving a Draymond Green Bobblehead. For information on tickets for Friday and all Warriors home games, visit santacruzbasketball.com or call (831) 713-4400.