Wyatt’s Fourth Quarter Leads Armor Past Warriors, 97-80

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – After just two points through the first three quarters, guard Khalif Wyatt scored 23 points in the fourth to pull the Springfield Armor (13-20), presented by MGM Springfield, out of a two-point hole for a 97-80 victory over the Santa Cruz Warriors (18-14) Friday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena.

The Santa Cruz offense relied on Seth Curry in the early going as the Duke product accounted for the first seven Warrior points, but the Armor defense was in full force, holding the Warriors to just 16 first-quarter points to take a 23-16 edge into the second.

After falling into a one-point deficit following a 14-6 Santa Cruz run, Springfield closed out the half by outscoring the Warriors 13-10 for a 42-40 advantage at intermission. Darius Johnson-Odom led the Armor offense with 11 points, while Willie Reed pulled down 11 boards to go along with eight first-half points.

Curry continued to lead the home team with 12 points at the break, but the Warriors’ shooting struggles continued as the team shot just 31 percent from the floor in the first half, following a 35 percent performance from the field last night.

The third quarter belonged to Santa Cruz’s Daniel Nwaelele as the former Air Force guard posted nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the frame to help the Warriors grab a 67-65 lead entering the fourth quarter. Reed added 10 points in the third to eclipse double-double numbers before the final period, but six free throws by the Warriors helped put the Armor in a two-point hole with 12 minutes to play.

The Armor had yet to win a game when entering the fourth quarter behind on the scoreboard. That was until Wyatt got his hands on the ball. The former Temple Owl, acquired via trade with Reno earlier in the week, dropped 23 points in the stanza to lead the Springfield comeback. The Armor went on to outscore Santa Cruz 32-13 in the frame to complete the two-game sweep with a 97-80 victory.

After his explosive fourth quarter, Wyatt finished with 25 points, using a 5-of-7 effort from beyond the arc for his career-high. Reed pulled down 20 boards to go with his 20 points for the first 20-20 game of the season for the Armor, and the second of his career.

Curry’s 21 points led the Warriors, but Santa Cruz combined to shoot 34.5 percent from the floor and just 20.0 percent from long range (5-of-25).