EL SEGUNDO – The South Bay Lakers came away with a huge divisional win as they beat the Santa Cruz Warriors, 125-101, on Sunday night. Thomas Bryant powered the Lakers (25-15) with 27 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, while James Southerland scored 22 points in his first game against his former team. Jabari Brown made his season debut for the Warriors (19-19) with 20 points, but Santa Cruz couldn’t stop the Lakers from deep as South Bay hit 17 of 31 shots from three-point range to take the season series, 3-1, over the Warriors.
Bryant and Southerland controlled the game in the first quarter with a combined 24 points, as the Lakers took a 28-27 lead through one. Gary Payton II pitched in nine points in the second quarter and Bryant continued his reign with eight more points to give himself a first half double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Bryant’s huge half helped lead the Lakers to a 62-56 halftime lead. Brown finished the first half with 11 points to lead Santa Cruz.
Demarcus Holland had the hot hand in the third, scoring 11 points on a perfect 3-3 from the field, to give his team the 98-79 lead. South Bay outscored the Warriors, 36-23, in the third as they dished out 12 assists in the period. Stephaun Branch scored 10 points in the final frame as the Lakers put the finishing touches on the win.
Brown’s scoring paced the Warriors, who also saw a trio off the bench score 13 apiece in Chris Boucher, Terrence Jones and CJ Wilcox. Also in double figures for Santa Cruz was Michael Gbinije who scored 10 points. Damian Jones tallied five blocks, but the Lakers were too much for Santa Cruz.
Bryant’s third consecutive double-double guided the Lakers to the win and Southerland’s shooting (22 points, 9-12 from the field) gave South Bay a scoring punch in the frontcourt. Payton II led the bench with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists, as Branch (12 points, three steals) and Andre Ingram (11 points) also reached double digits. Michael Holyfield picked up his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds to go along with a posterizing dunk that nearly tore the rim down. Alex Caruso and Scott Machado each dished out 12 assists to help the Lakers reach a season-high 38 on the night and Holland pitched in 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The South Bay Lakers will return to action on Wednesday, February 28 when they host the Memphis Hustle at 7:00 from the UCLA Health Training Center.