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Western Conference Champs fall to Santa Cruz

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The Los Angeles D-Fenders (0-2) were defeated by the Santa Cruz Warriors (2-0) 138-126 on Saturday night at Toyota Sports Center, ending the Quarterfinals series 2-0.

In the first quarter, the D-Fenders battled back-and-forth with the Warriors, resulting in five lead changes over the opening five minutes of play. However, Los Angeles erupted for a 16-0 run in the middle of the frame to pull ahead of Santa Cruz by nine points at the end of the opening quarter. Despite a strong finish to the initial frame, the D-Fenders struggled from the field in the second quarter, shooting 29.6 percent from the floor and 22.2 percent from the three-point line. The inefficiency from the floor resulted in a six-point deficit at the break. In total, Los Angeles shot 40.4 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from the three-point line in the first half.

In the third period, the D-Fenders could not contain the Warriors offense that shot 66.7 percent from the field in the frame. The offensive outburst allowed Santa Cruz to pull ahead by as many as 17 points. In the final twelve minutes, Los Angeles managed to put a clamp on the Santa Cruz offense, holding them to 34.8 percent from the field. However, the D-Fenders were never able to get within single-digits, inevitably falling to the Warriors in the game and series.

Brandon Costner set a new franchise playoff record for points in a game with 39 points and 11 rebounds to lead the D-Fenders. Additionally, Terrence Williams (17 points, eight rebounds), Josiah Turner (16 points), C.J. Williams (14 points, five rebounds), Shawne Williams (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Josh Magette (10 points, seven assists) finished in double-digits for Los Angeles.

For the Warriors, Cameron Jones led the scoring effort with 33 points, while Golden State Warriors assignment player Ognjen Kuzmic (23 points, 18 rebounds) and Lance Goulbourne (12 points, 13 rebounds) finished with double-doubles. Furthermore, Seth Curry (23 points), Daniel Nwaelele (15 points), Kiwi Gardner (12 points) and Mychel Thompson (10 points) finished in double-digits for Santa Cruz.

Overall, the D-Fenders got out in the open court with great proficiency, out-scoring Santa Cruz in fast-break points 29 to 12. However, Los Angeles was out-shot 52.7 to 44.3 percent from the field and 43.3 to 35.9 percent from the three-point line.

This marks the end of the Los Angeles D-Fenders 2013-14 season. Overall, Los Angeles claimed their second division title in franchise history and finished with the franchise’s third best record all-time. Additionally, four D-Fenders players earned NBA call-ups this year and Manny Harris and Shawne Williams became the first two players to ever be called up from the D-Fenders to their parent club the Los Angeles Lakers.

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