SAN FRANCISCO—The Santa Cruz Warriors went on its annual road trip to the Chase Center on Saturday afternoon, hoping to put on a good show for more than 10,000 fans who showed up to watch them play.
However, there was no home sweet home moment for the Sea Dubs who were outplayed throughout the second half in a 127-110 loss against the Cleveland Charge.
Santa Cruz split the homestand against Cleveland after boasting a five point victory on Thursday night.
“It’s a little harder to play into the second game against the same team when they now really know you,” said Santa Cruz head coach Seth Cooper.
The Warriors took a brief two point lead late in the second quarter but they gradually watched the game spiral out of reach.
Moses Moody–who was on assignment with Santa Cruz from Golden State–scored 24 points in his second stint with the franchise’s G League affiliate.
Playing with Santa Cruz allows Moody to receive significantly more minutes and valuable experience on the court.
“Just getting out and a chance to play,” he said. “You can’t get better without playing basketball.”
Santa Cruz guard Lester Quiñones laced up in Saturday’s contest after recently signing a 10-day contract with Golden State. He also contributed 24 points in Saturday’s contest.
Quiñones was well deserving of the opportunity. He was awarded the NBA G League Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 13-26, averaging 31 points per game and leading his team to a 3-1 record during that time period.
Various players have been shifted around in the G League this season–particularly in Santa Cruz–which makes it difficult to mesh and develop a firm team identity.
“It’s not as much the coaching aspect, it’s just out on the court you can see a little bit that they haven’t played together as much,” Cooper said. “That’s where you see the flow look a little better and today the game felt a little choppy.”
As is customtic of the Santa Cruz Warriors, the crowd remained on its feet until their team drew first blood, coming off a Moses Moody free throw just over a minute in.
Dusty Hannahs returned for his second game after a brief tenure with the USA world cup qualifying team. He came out hot with 10 points in the first quarter, while his teammates began ice cold.
Quiñones expressed his gratitude to the thousands of fans who cheered for his first game back at the Chase Center since the NBA Summer League.
“It felt good to be out there,” Quiñones said. “I wanted to win of course, but I tip my hat to [Cleveland], they played a great game today.”
By halftime, Cleveland held a narrow 60-58 lead with much of the first half consisting of back and forth swings driven by three point shooting.
As Santa Cruz saw some of its shots from the charity line go down, which led to improvement in their shooting touch from the field.
There were still multiple facets on which Cleveland held the distinctive advantage that played pivotal roles in its victory.
Santa Cruz dished out just 18 assists compared to the staggering 32 the unselfish Charge put up.
Additionally, the Warriors gave up 15 turnovers resulting in 23 points along with a porous defense that allowed Cleveland to shoot nearly 50% from beyond the arc, appearing unable to miss the bottom of the net.
The Warriors find themselves as the No. 7 seed and are now on the outside looking in. They remain half of a game out of playoff contention and every game becomes more crucial than ever.
“We’ve really just been trying to take it game by game,” Cooper said. “It’s really just been about staying with that process and continuing to get better, and continuing to play the best we can during the game.”
The Warriors –who had a 6-2 record in February–aim to regain some of that momentum in what will be their first road game in nearly a month.
Santa Cruz (11-10) will play at Birmingham Squadron (6-18) on Tuesday at 9am.