SANTA CRUZ—The Santa Cruz Warriors entered Thursday’s game against the Sioux Falls Skyforce hoping to secure its first home win of the regular season at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
The Sea Dubs did so in dominating fashion with their highest scoring performance of the season in a 126-103 victory over the Skyforce in the first of back-to-back meetings against Sioux Falls.
Warriors guard Dusty Hannahs seemingly couldn’t miss to begin the game, scoring 19 points in the first quarter that gave the Warriors an early lead.
Hannahs finished with a game-high 25 points despite seeing his shooting percentage fall throughout the second half as the defense keyed onto him.
“They did a good job of zeroing in on him,” Warriors head coach Seth Cooper said. “I think there’s some things Dusty can continue to do a better job of. Especially when he gets going he likes to chase the ball.”
A barrage of 3-pointers from Hannahs brought the crowd on its feet and gave Santa Cruz a 69-59 lead going into halftime.
He leads the team in scoring with 21.8 points per game shooting an extremely efficient 50% from the field, and 51.6% from three-point range.
The Warriors made 11-of-32 (34%) shot attempts from beyond the arc on Thursday night, yet they were still able to tally a season-best 126 points.
This was, in large part, due to seven of the Warriors’ nine players scoring double-digit points.
The reacquisition of Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins from Golden State gave Santa Cruz—the 18th highest scoring team in the G League—some extra scoring.
Both were acquired by Golden State in the 2022 NBA draft and have been developing in the G League for much of the season.
Baldwin Jr., who tallied an NBA career-high of 17 points on Dec. 22, was sent to Santa Cruz on Wednesday but did not suit up against the Skyforce due to injury/illness.
Rollins was able to contribute 19 points off the bench in his return to Santa Cruz.
While the Warriors still managed to come out on top, turnovers were a major deterrent. They finished the game giving up 21 turnovers compared to the 11 from Sioux Falls.
“I think as long as we stay together, keep defending and take care of the ball, we’ll be able to withstand those runs when we get lazy,” Cooper said.
After recently trading Trevion Williams, 7-foot-0 center Jayce Johnson has been making his presence known in the paint as an offensive rebounding machine.
He had the only double-double of the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
“I don’t think my mindset has really changed,” Johnson said. “It’s just playing hard with whatever time I have on the court.”
The difference in shooting percentage made a substantial impact. Santa Cruz hit 52.4% of their field goals, while the Skyforce made just 45.5%.
Both teams struggled from beyond the three-point line, in which the Skyforce shot a dismal 26.2% (11-of-41).
Jordan Schakel scored 13 points in 29 minutes in his debut with Santa Cruz, shooting an efficient 60% (3-of-5) from beyond the arc.
“I think he will get more comfortable as he goes on and his ability to shoot,” Cooper said. “He’s a smart player, I think he can really help us.”
Skyforce guard Jamaree Bouyea—who attended Pamla High in Salinas—is accustomed to the area and made his return to the Central Coast.
“I played here in high school in a bunch of tournaments and I watched a bunch of G League games, so being back here is something special,” Bouyea said.
Bouyea is averaging 22.8 points but the Warriors held him to just eight points on Thursday night.
“Whatever we did tonight, flush it out the window, come back tomorrow and play a whole new game,” he said.
Mychal Mulder—who played for the Golden State Warriors from 2019-2020—had an impressive outing for the Skyforce.
He chipped in 21 points and was the team’s one bright spot from beyond the arc, making 4-of-7 three-point shots.
The Warriors were able to outscore Sioux Falls by 10 points from the free throw line, shooting 94% compared to their 43%. This proved to be a key contribution to their win.
“That’s something that we have been emphasizing, and we’ve done a pretty good job with our free throw rate,” Cooper said.
Santa Cruz (3-3) will continue its short two-game homestand against Sioux Falls after playing on the road for nearly two weeks.
The Skyforce (5-3) will have a chance to regather themselves and attempt to split their road trip series against the Sea Dubs.
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