Santa Cruz's Chris Johnson pump fakes as Tulsa's Travis Hyman defends during the first half of their game Sunday at Kaiser Permanente Arena. (Glenn Cravens/Register-Pajaronian)
SANTA CRUZ — A five-point deficit felt like 500 points. But once the Santa Cruz Warriors overcame it, the floodgates opened.
The Warriors overcame their halftime deficit and used defense in the fourth quarter to rally past the Tulsa 66ers 92-80 on Sunday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena.
Stefhon Hannah scored a game-high 25 points, 13 coming in the second half as he helped the Warriors stay unbeaten in six games at their new home on 140 Front St.
Down 59-54 with 4:39 to go in the third quarter, Hannah hit an in-your-face contested jumper. He then spotted up for a three-pointer, and the Warriors were back even with the 66ers with 4:20 remaining in the quarter.
Hannah then faced another enemy, the shot clock, as it was winding down to zero with 2:15 to go. No problem. He let it rip, and a three-pointer swished in, sending the crowd into a frenzy as the Warriors regained the lead at 62-61.
It was then Daniel Nwaelele who later ended the third quarter with a flash, sinking a three-pointer with 25 seconds to go to give the Warriors a 67-65 advantage.
Lance Goulbourne gave the Warriors the lead for good with a three pointer from the wing, as the Warriors grabbed a 74-71 lead with 9:27 to go in the fourth quarter.
Tulsa did its best to answer quickly, but the Warriors' defense stepped up.
With the win, the Warriors improved to 11-6. The win was their second on the season. Tulsa fell back to below .500 at 9-10.
The Warriors were plagued by foul trouble in the first half, and that allowed the 66ers, the affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder, to maintain its advantage.
Santa Cruz got to within five a couple of times, but Tulsa did just enough to answer each time.
With 2:12 to go in the first half, the Warriors thought they were going to be within five, as Hannah led a fast break. He served up an alley oop to Taylor Griffin, who slammed it home, but the officials called Griffin for grabbing the rim too early, offensive goaltending.
Both teams scored 23 points in the second quarter. As the Warriors got in a bucket, Tulsa went back to the other end and responded. The 66ers led 49-41 at half.
This was one of the rare D-League games where neither team had an NBA player on assignment. The 66ers' two NBA assignment players from Friday night, Perry Jones and Daniel Orton, were called up to the team a day after playing for Tulsa.
Andy Rautins, the 66ers guard, torched the Warriors in the first half. He finished the first half with 12 points, the only Tulsa player to reach double figures in scoring at the intermission.
The 66ers players pounded the inside, leaving Rautins open to take three-point opportunities. He was 3 for 8 from behind the arc in the first half.
Hannah was the lone Santa Cruz player in double figures at the half, scoring 12 points. He was feeling it early, nailing back-to-back three-point attempts to get the Warriors on the board. But much like the rest of the squad, the Warriors were slowed by Tulsa's offense and a load of foul calls.
There were 26 total fouls in the first half, the Warriors getting tagged for 15.
While Hannah adjusted in the second half, the Warriors adjusted on Rautins, who only had four second-half points.
Chris Johnson had 18 points, and Cameron Jones had 11 points. Griffin had six points, nine rebounds and five assists.For the complete article see the 01-15-2013 issue.
Click here to view the 01-15-2013 E-Edition containing the rest of this article.
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