HIDALGO, Texas -- The Santa Cruz Warriors earned their second consecutive NBA D-League Finals berth with a 147-128 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers Monday night. The Warriors will face the top-seeded Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the Finals, with Game 1 tipping off at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz on Thursday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. Pacific.
Santa Cruz was led by Lance Goulbourne, who logged his fourth double-double in five postseason games with 29 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Seth Curry scored 28 points (15 in the fourth quarter) and dished out a game-high eight assists, while Mychel Thompson scored 25 off the bench. Cameron Jones scored 24 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists.
Rio Grande Valley was again led by Isaiah Canaan, currently on assignment from the Houston Rockets, who scored a game-high 35 points. Darius Morris scored 26 and dished out a team-high six assists, while Robert Covington, also on assignment from Houston, scored 25.
The Vipers started the game on a 7-2 run, holding their largest lead early in the first quarter. The Warriors took the lead on an 11-3 run, but the Vipers tied the game at 20 apiece with 4:47 left in the first. Santa Cruz went ahead 22-20 on a Lance Goulbourne layup with 4:24 remaining in the first frame and never relinquished the lead, building as much as a 14-point advantage in the quarter due partly to an 11-0 run. Santa Cruz maintained its double-digit lead through the second quarter, but the Vipers cut the deficit to eight with 7:59 left in the third. Santa Cruz went on a 10-0 run to push its advantage to 18 and ended the third quarter ahead by 15. The Vipers scored six straight points to begin the fourth quarter to pull within nine points, but the Warriors responded and led by double-digits for the rest of the contest.
The Warriors' 147 points is the most scored by the team in a game in any setting. Santa Cruz held the advantage on field goal shooting (57.9%-43.5%), three-point percentage (47.4%-34.6%), rebounds (48-35), assists (31-25) and points in the paint (78-42) while committing fewer turnovers (13-18). The Vipers had more blocks (11-2).
Game 1 of the Finals Tips-Off in Santa Cruz on Thursday, April 24
Courtesy Santa Cruz Warriors media services