Hilton Armstrong has monster second-half after team starts slow.
Despite a slow start from a team coming off its second game in as many days (the first one on the road in Reno) the Santa Cruz Warriors (12-8) finished strong in the second half defeating the visiting Maine Red Claws (8-10) 110-103 Friday Night.
Hilton Armstrong finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. Seth Curry, in his first game back with Santa Cruz after being released from the Memphis Grizzlies last Sunday, scored 22 points to go along with 7 assists.
"He's playing strong and we need to keep him on that level," said coach Casey Hill, "He's a wonderful piece to have whether it's on the court, in the locker room, or at a community event. He's just a great teammate, player, and person."
Coming off a statement victory against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers Friday to close out their week in Reno at the D-League showcase, the Warriors came out to a slow start. Unlike the Sea Dubs and their intense interior presence, the Red Claws scored 22 points in the paint in the first-quarter alone, feeding off of a tired Warriors squad.
Despite being outrebounded by the Red Claws (31-21) and giving up 12 second-chance points in the first-half, the Warriors stayed in the game by shooting a ridiculous 75% (6-of-8) from three-point range. The team trailed 49-47 heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Warriors bench including William Buford and Mychel Thompson shined for the Warriors when they needed them the most with fatigue setting in for the starters. The bench scored 31 points for the Warriors while shooting 61% (11-for-18).
Hilton Armstrong scored 19 points in the second-half alone, helping to pace the Warriors as the team kept dropping him the ball to him in the post where he would either convert with a bucket or get fouled in the process. Armstrong shot a franchise-record 19 free-throws for the game, sinking 14 of them.
"Rebounding was the key tonight," said Armstrong of his team's performance tonight. They closed the rebounding margin in the second half to four (46-to-50).
Frustration began to mount with the Red Claws late in the game, however. After being called for an offensive foul, Armstrong held onto the basketball while Marcel Anderson of the Red Claws snatched it from his hands. But not before Armstrong slapped it out of Anderson's grip and kicked the ball, resulting in a technical foul.
"I don't remember what happened with that play," said Armstrong with a cheshire-like grin on his face. "I do remember kicking the ball, which I do know better than. I don't know where my head was,"
Chris Wright, ranked number seven on the D-League Prospect Watch, finished with a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Red Claws. Romero Osby led all scorers for Maine with 22 points and 8 rebounds.
Six-year NBA veteran Dominic McGuire finished with a double-double for Santa Cruz scoring 12 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
The Warriors finished the game shooting 50% from three-point range (9-for-18) while the Red Claws shot only 31.4% (11-for-35).