SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The Santa Cruz Warriors (6-4) fell behind early and were soundly defeated by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (6-3) tonight, 139-121 at Kaiser Permanente Arena. The Vipers, currently on a six-game winning streak, scored 139 points tonight on 61.9% shooting, the second-best shooting performance of the season after the South Bay Lakers 63.9% outing tonight against the Texas Legends.
The Vipers had seven players in double figures and four scorers finishing with over 20 points. Rio Grande Valley guard Tony Wroten led the Vipers with 25 points (8-11 FG, 3-3 3FG), and two-way guard Monte Morris, currently on a flex assignment from the Denver Nuggets, scored 20 points (9-10 FG, 2-2 3FG). Forward Danuel House (21 points), Rockets two-way guard Demetrius Jackson (21 points), guard RJ Hunter (18 points), forward Chris Walker (14 points) and center Chinanu Onuaku (12 points) rounded out the team’s season-high scoring effort.
Santa Cruz was led by forward Damion Lee’s season-high 25 points (10-18 FG, 3-7 3FG) off the bench, along with center Damian Jones notching 23 points (11-17 FG) and forward James Southerland collecting 21 points (8-13 FG, 5-8 3FG) in his third start of the season. With Quinn Cook rejoining the Golden State Warriors earlier this afternoon, Alex Hamilton started in his place and notched eight points and six assists, passing Seth Curry (221) for eighth place on the franchise’s career assists list with 225 helpers.
The Vipers began the evening’s fast-paced onslaught by shooting 76.5% with seven three-pointers and five blocked shots to take a nine point lead over the Sea Dubs through the first quarter. Despite a team-high 15 point quarter from forward Georges Niang, the Warriors were still outscored 37-34 in the second quarter by a well-balanced Vipers attack featuring 15 fast break points. Despite Damian Jones playing the entire fourth quarter to score 13 points on 6-6 shooting, the Warriors could not shrink the deficit by less than 18 points to take home the loss.