SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The Grand Rapids Drive (20-20) withstood a comeback by the Santa Cruz Warriors (28-12) to earn a road win Wednesday night by a 109-99 final. The Drive got off to a 30-15 lead in the first quarter and ultimately led the entire game, but the Warriors crawled back with a 37-23 third quarter and the game went down to the wire.
Marcus Thornton scored 28 points, leading the Drive in scoring for the fourth consecutive game. Despite winning by only 10, the Drive outscored the Warriors by 24 points in the 35 minutes Thornton played. Isaiah Whitehead added 24 points, six rebounds and five assists, Speedy Smith had 17 points and five assists and Michael Bethea Jr. had 19 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Antonius Cleveland’s 26 points and 10 rebounds were both team highs for the Warriors despite Cleveland starting the game on the bench. 55 of the 99 points the Warriors managed came from bench players. Darius Morris scored 20 points for Santa Cruz, Kendrick Nunn and Jacob Evans each scored 14 points, and Will Cherry scored 13 points.
The Warriors rebounded from a miserable first quarter where they shot 25 percent from the floor and did not get to the free throw line, ending the game at over 40 percent from the floor as a team and doing better than the Drive from three-point range, as the Drive hit only nine threes on the night. The Drive’s aggressiveness attacking the basket all night was enough to make up for that, as they drew 34 free throws despite ranking near the bottom of the league in drawing trips to the foul line all season.