January 20, 2012

Slugs Defeat Chapman in a Nailbiter

 There is no place like home: Slugs stay perfect at Slug Dome On a dark and stormy night, the near capacity crowd and the swarming UC Santa Cruz defense pulled off the perfect storm as the Slugs beat Chapman 44-43 in a game that was not decided until Brandon Lin’s highly contested shot glazed off the side of the back board and fell harmlessly to the floor as the buzzer sounded. In a game that would see seven ties and 11 lead changes, the tone was set early. Chapman seemed content to run each possession deep into the shot clock to slow down the faster Slugs and the Slugs responded with patience on both offense and defense. After the teams traded steals early on, the Panthers Brandon Lin opened up scoring with a lay up one minute into the game. Thirty seconds later, Trent Reeves found Jamien Jones open under the basket to tie the game up. Scoring six of the next seven points, the Panthers took their biggest lead of the game, 8-3 before a calm Samuel Allen trey closed the gap. The Slugs pulled even on Spencer Wells basket with 10:14 left in the half and moments later, after Lin hit his second basket of the game, a Nick Hipwell pass would find Wells wide open at the top of the key where he drained a three to give the Slugs their first lead, 15-14 at the 9:40 mark. The Panthers would retake the lead, stretching it once again to five points with just under five minutes to go before the Slugs went on a 5-0 capped by Nathan Morhi's old fashion three point play knotted it all up at 21-21. Over the last 3:11 of the first half, the lead would change three more times with Chapman taking a one point lead, 26-25 into the locker room on Nick Dragovich's tip in at the buzzer. Ben Ricard of Chapman scored his only basket from the field in the second half with 1:40 gone. It would be just one of four shots Chapman would make from the field the entire second half. Holding a block party down low, Jacobs blocked a Ricard shot in the paint and then came down and scored at the other end to earn the first tie of the second half, 31-31 with just under five minutes gone. The next time down the floor, Jacobs once again rejected a Ricard shot. This led to a Nick Hipwell pull up jumper to give the Slugs their first lead of the second half. Justin Young countered for the Panthers tying the game with a short shot with 13 minutes to go. However, Chapman would not score from the field for the next 11:39, with the Slug defense holding the Panthers to just six free throws over this time period. The first two gave the Panthers a 35-33 lead, but a Jamien Jones rebound and basket gave the men from Cruz the lead for good 38-37 with 6:32 to go. Two drive and dishes by Sam Allen led to lay ups for Spencer Wells and Jamien Jones and gave the Slugs a five point lead, 44-39 with just 2:45 left. With 1:21 left, Brandon Lin would end the field goal drought for the Panthers with a three to cut the Slug lead to 44-42. After the Slugs missed three close in attempts at the other end, Chapman had the ball with 30.1 seconds left in the game. Driving to the basket with 11.8 seconds left, the Panthers Andrew Avalos was fouled. He hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to one. Five seconds later, the Slugs missed a pair of free throws with Ben Ricard pulling down the rebound and passing off to Brandon Lin for the potential game winning shot. However, the pressure of Spencer Wells forced Lin into an off balanced shot that barely hit the side of the backboard. As the ball careened out of bounds, the buzzer went off and Coach Johnson and the Slugs celebrated their first victory over the Panthers in the past 18 games, dating back almost five years to January 21, 2006. For the Panthers, Ben Ricard led the scoring with 11 points, but shot just 3 for 10 from the field. No other Panther was in double figures. The high pressure Slug defense held Chapman to just 19% from the field in the second half and 32.6% for the game and limited them to just one three point basket for the game. Brent Jacobs lead the Slug effort with 11 points. But even a greater effect was his presence on the inside where his back-to-back blocks changed the game early in the second half and helped cause the Panthers to go on an 11-minute field goal drought. Spencer Wells was a perfect three for three from the field to add 10 points to the cause while Jamien Jones added nine points and solid defense on the interior. Sam Allen’s nifty ball handling late in the game gave the Slugs two easy baskets and revolving Slug defense held the Panthers to just 17 points in the second half. Next up for the Slugs is UC Merced on Sunday at 3PM at Merced. Next weekend, the Slugs play at home both Friday and Saturday night. The Friday night game will be at 6pm against Pacifica University and the Saturday game is at 7pm versus UC Merced.