The Warriors recovered since dropping two games at home versus the Springfield Armor after the All-Star break. With a 123-103 win over the Austin Toros on Feb. 23 and a 138-124 loss against the Reno Grande Valley Vipers on Feb. 26, the Warriors have four more games on the road before returning home for a matchup with the Delaware 87ers on March 7.
At their last home game, with a sold-out crowd of 2,544 spectators at the Kaiser Permanente Arena, the Santa Cruz Warriors (19-14) were looking to bounce back with a win against Springfield Armor (13-21), who they previously lost to the night before 94-80. Unfortunately, the result was the same on Feb. 21, with Warriors losing again 97-80.
“The All-Star break was a big momentum killer,” said head coach Casey Hill. “The guys checked out mentally and it hurt us.”
The Warriors started off the game with Seth Curry scoring the team’s first seven points. He would go on to lead the Warriors in scoring with 21 points, including hitting 8-17 from the field. This stood out from an otherwise abysmal shooting performance by the team, as a whole as they combined to shoot 34.5 percent from the field and 20 percent from behind the arc. They just couldn’t seem to find the bucket.
“I tried to find my teammates and missed some shots but overall I played fine,” Curry said. “They made some adjustments defensively, making it hard for me. I just have to make a few more plays next game.”
The Warriors showed signs of life in the third quarter, stepping up both offensively and defensively. With more ball movement, points added up quickly and the team had a 27-point quarter. On the defensive side of the ball, they tallied up three blocks and three steals. Santa Cruz took the lead heading into the fourth quarter, 67-65.
“You saw a very different Santa Cruz Warriors in the third quarter,” Hill said. “It wasn’t like pulling teeth to make a bucket. We got some rhythm, we were making the extra pass and things started flowing for us.”
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Warriors had the momentum, but quickly lost it. In the entire quarter the team scored just 13 points as they gave up 32 to the Armor. Twenty-three of those came from guard Khalif Wyatt, who had struggled through the first three quarters, but caught fire, hitting five, fourth quarter 3-pointers and finishing the night as the top-scorer.
“I want to give a lot of credit to my teammates and my coaches. They kept me positive,” Wyatt said. “They kept encouraging me and I hit some shots. I’m glad I was able to contribute to my team.”
Despite the two losses for Santa Cruz to Springfield, a Santa Cruz fan was a winner on Friday night. Danny Romero, a Santa Cruz resident at the game, made a $1,000 half-court shot. As soon as he sank the shot, the fans went crazy — Romero was the first person to hit the shot all season.
With a playoff spot on the team’s minds, the Warriors hope to gain momentum on their road trip, and maybe catch some of Romero’s luck as well.
Currently the Warriors are the seventh overall team with a record of 19-15 and are one game behind the division leading Los Angeles D-Fenders for first-place. Warriors guard Seth Curry is optimistic about the team’s chances in the upcoming road trip.
“We will be fine, we just have to watch the film and just try to learn what we need to do better,” Curry said. “We have to make some shots. We had some open looks that we didn’t make, but if we start hitting them we will be able to play better overall.”