SANTA CRUZ, CA -- UC Santa Cruz honored Spencer Wells Saturday afternoon at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Wells is the lone senior for the 2013-2014 Slugs. Their final home opponent was NCAA Division III foe University of La Verne. The Slugs won the game 46-44.
The first half did not start out well as the Slugs shook off the rust from the two week layoff. The Slugs fell behind 10-0 with 14:55 left in the first half on an Evan Roberts three pointer. The Leopards' largest lead of the game came 3:49 in clock time later as Niall Harrison made a layup to make the score 14-1. The Slugs would widdle away the Leopards' lead with a 10-0 run of their own, which was capped by a Jared Ponce layup with 7:18 left in the half, making the score 14-11. The Slugs would take the lead, at 18-16, with 3:27 left in the half on a James Townsend three pointer. The Leopards would add an Eric Becker free with 1:58 left to make the score 18-17. Neither team would score in the remainder of the half and the halftime score was 18-17.
In the second half, the Slugs extended their lead to three, at 20-17, on a Ilan Zur layup with 17:49 left in the game. The Leopards would claw their way back into the game, tying the game at 20-20 with 17:34 left on a Ronn See three point play and took the lead thirty seconds later on a Weston Newell free throw to make the score 22-21 with 17:04 left. The Slugs would come as close as one point, but the Leopards held the Slugs at bay. The Leopards earned their biggest lead of the second half at 38-30 on a Cruz Mertens three pointer, with 6:24 left, to make the score 38-30. From the 6:24 mark on, the Slugs would go on a game-ending 16-6 run. The Slugs tied the game with 3:07 left, at 40-40, on a Jared Ponce three pointer. With 1:49 left in the game, Wells, the lone senior and honoree of the day, gave the Slugs the lead for good with a layup to make the score 42-40. Down the stretch, the Slugs used four free throws, two from Wells and two from Matthew Ponce for the 46-44 victory.
Townsend had a game high fourteen points for the Banana Slugs. Harrison had eleven points for the Leopards. Wells had ten points for UC Santa Cruz. See had ten points for the Leopards in the loss. Matthew Ponce had nine points and Jared Ponce had eight points in the win for the Slugs.
The Banana Slugs shot 27.5% (14-51) from the field, 14.3% (2-14) from the three point line and was 64% (16-25) from the free throw line. The Leopards shot 32.1% (17-53) from the field, 14.3% (3-21) from the three point line and 46.7% (7-15) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced twenty four Leopard turnovers scoring nineteen points off the turnovers while the Leopards' defense forced sixteen turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring eight points off the turnovers. University of La Verne outrebounded UC Santa Cruz 42-38 32-31 but UC Santa Cruz had seven more steals (15-8) than did University of La Verne.
The Slugs have very little time to savor the victory as their next contest is on Sunday evening. The Slugs will take on Occidental College in Eagle Rock at 7 pm.