SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The Santa Cruz Warriors (20-17) defeated the Windy City Bulls (14-20) 118-113 on Saturday night in front of a twenty-fourth consecutive sellout crowd at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Seven different players for Santa Cruz scored in double-figures in the first ever match-up between the two teams.
The Warriors were paced by Alex Hamilton, who led all scorers with 26 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Phil Pressey was one assist shy of a triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 17 rebounds, and 9 assists. Dennis Clifford contributed 18 points and 7 rebounds, while James Southerland added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Jarell Eddie and Aaron Thomas led the Bulls with 23 points apiece, while Will Bynum added 18 points and 5 assists. Alfonzo McKinnie notched a double-double, totaling 13 points and 12 rebounds. Wesley Saunders came off the bench to contribute 14 points and 7 rebounds for Windy City.
The Warriors would look to find their footing as they dropped to a quick 10-point deficit midway through the first period. Santa Cruz halted Windy City’s attempts to create further distance, halving the visitors’ surplus to enter the second period trailing by five points.
Santa Cruz stepped up their defensive efforts in the second quarter, holding the opponents to a 27.3% team shooting effort en route to outscoring the visitors by eight points. Back-to-back three-point plays from Phil Pressey as part of an 11-2 run for the Warriors with 6:12 remaining in the half would give the Warriors their first lead of the night. The hosts carried the advantage into the locker room, leading 57-54.
Santa Cruz erupted in the third period, outscoring the Bulls 37-19 to jump out to a 21-point lead by the start of the fourth quarter. In the early minutes of the final frame, Santa Cruz expanded their lead to 28 points, the largest of the night.
Though it seemed like Windy City would remain out of the game, a scoring spurt powered by Eddie’s and Thomas’s combined 28 points would breathe life into a viable comeback win. The Bulls came within 3 points of the Warriors by the final 13.4 seconds of the game, but time would expire in favor of the hosts, as Windy City was forced to repeatedly foul the Warriors in order to secure additional attempts at scoring. Two made free-throws from Phil Pressey with 11.7 seconds remaining would lock in a five-point cushion and the victory.
The Santa Cruz Warriors will travel to South Dakota to take on the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Wednesday, Mar. 1 at 4:30 p.m. PST at the Sanford Pentagon. The Warriors will return home on Mar. 4 to host the Reno Bighorns on “Pajama Night” to benefit local nonprofit, Project Pajamas. Tickets are still available to attend the game and can be purchased at the Santa Cruz Warriors’ headquarters at 903 Pacific Avenue, online at www.santacruzbasketball.com or over the phone at (831) 713-4400. Fans can also catch the game on Facebook Live by visiting the Santa Cruz Warriors’ Facebook page at tip-off.