SANTA CRUZ (11-27) – UC Santa Cruz began the Mission Inn Thanksgiving Classic as they hosted Whitman College at Kaiser Permanente Arena. The Missionaries outscored the Banana Slugs by nine in the second half en route to a 77-63 victory.
Both teams won their last game. UC Santa Cruz won 73-70 over Lewis & Clark College on Sunday in Santa Cruz while Whitman won 111-73 over California Institute of Technology in Walla Walla also on Sunday.
In the first half, the two teams would trade baskets for the first three and a half minutes. The Missionaries would gain their largest lead of the half at six, at 14-8, on an Evan Martin layup with 12:54 left in the half. The Banana Slugs would respond with a 16-6 run, capped by a Tyler Berkness jumper with 7:47 left, to make the score 24-20 in favor of the Banana Slugs. The four point lead would be the largest of the game, however, as the Missionaries would take the lead for good at 25-24 on a Philip Chircu free throw. The Missionaries led 35-30 at the halftime intermission.
In the second half, the Missionaries would expand their lead to double digits at 40-30 on a Tim Howell jumper with 18:27 left. The Missionaries would gain their largest lead of the ballgame at nineteen, at 59-40, on an Evan Martin layup with 9:25 left in the game. The Banana Slugs would come as close as nine, at 70-61, on a Jared Ponce three pointer with 1:05 remaining. The Missionaries won 77-63.
Jared Ponce had a game high sixteen points for the Banana Slugs. Tim Howell also had a game high sixteen points for the Missionaries. Marlow had a double double with twelve points and eleven assists. Will Crain had ten points in the loss. Chircu had twelve points and Tochi Oti had eleven points for the Missionaries.
The Banana Slugs shot 47.1% (24-51) from the field, 33.3% (5-15) from the three point line and was 55.6% (10-18) from the free throw line. The Missionaries shot 46.6% (27-58) from the field, 35.7% (5-14) from the three point line and 60% (18-30) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced twelve turnovers by the Missionaries scoring eight points off the turnovers while the Missionaries' defense forced twenty two turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring thirty points off the turnovers. UC Santa Cruz outrebounded Whitman 39-30 while the Missionaries had thirteen more bench points (28-15) than did the Banana Slugs.
The next game for the Banana Slugs will be Sunday as they take on California Lutheran University at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Tip off is set for 1 pm.