EL SEGUNDO, CA– In the first regular season game at the state-of-the-art UCLA Health Training Center, the South Bay Lakers came back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Santa Cruz Warriors, 127-123. Career highs from Thomas Bryant (30 points) and Alex Caruso (29 points) fueled the Lakers (2-0) to their second win over Santa Cruz (1-2) in this early season.
For the second game in a row, the Lakers saw the Warriors take a big lead in the second half, but strong shooting and balanced scoring helped South Bay come back and win. Bryant and Caruso hit clutch threes in the final minutes to put the game away, but it was Scott Machado who led the come-from-behind victory with 15 points and 8 assists in the second half alone.
Bryant and Travis Wear combined for 19 points in the first quarter, but the Lakers only held a two-point lead, 34-32, thanks to nine points from Warriors forward Georges Niang. In the second, it was former-Laker James Southerland who led the way for Santa Cruz with 15 points to give the Warriors a 69-61 lead at the half.
Santa Cruz came out strong in the second half with a 19-7 run to extend their lead to 20, but Machado’s calm presence and Caruso’s scoring kept Santa Cruz at bay. The Warriors took a 102-92 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Lakers produced a second half run of their own and outscored Santa Cruz 13-2 to take back the lead, only minutes into the final frame. Quinn Cook kept the Warriors within striking distance, but the Lakers hit big shot after big shot to maintain the lead and secure their second victory on the year.
Cook tallied 25 points and seven rebounds to lead the way for Santa Cruz, while three other Warriors also hit the 20-point mark: Southerland (23 points, 11 rebounds), Cleanthony Early (20 points, seven rebounds, five assists, five blocks, three steals) and Niang (20 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists). Antonius Cleveland also scored in double-digits for the Warriors with 16 points of his own.
Bryant (30 points, eight rebounds), Caruso (29 points, seven assists) and Machado (19 points, eight assists) led the way for South Bay, while V.J. Beachem added 17 points and Wear grabbed a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) to keep the Lakers undefeated.