SANTA CRUZ (12-20) – UC Santa Cruz played their second game of a three game homestand as they played Whittier College in the first game of the Mission Inn Holiday Classic. Whittier would never trail as they won 86-72.
Both teams won their last game. UC Santa Cruz won 71-59 over California Institute of Technology on Wednesday in Santa Cruz while Whittier defeated NCCAA member West Coast Baptist College 89-65 on December 11th in Whittier.
In the first half, the Poets jumped out of the gate using a 12-2 run, capped by an Eric Jennings layup with 15:34 left in the half. The Banana Slugs would come as close as eight, at 14-6, on a Kyle Creighton jumper, with 14:36 left in the half. The Poets would expand their lead and would gain their largest lead at twenty, at 44-24, on a pair of Anthony Martinez free throws with two minutes left in the half. The Poets would lead 48-31 at the halftime break.
In the second half, the Banana Slugs would methodically get their way back into the game. With 16:26 left in the game, Will Crain would score on a layup to make 50-40. The Poets would gain their largest lead of the half at seventeen, at 61-44, on a Jacob Contreras three pointer with 12:09 left. The Banana Slugs would then go on a 20-5 run, capped by an Adam Marlow three pointer with 8:20 left, to make the score 66-64. Two was as close as the Banana Slugs would come, however, as the Poets would outscore the Banana Slugs 16-8 over the remaining time to win the game 86-72.
Crain had a game-high twenty-four points for the Banana Slugs. Martinez had twenty-one points, off the bench, for the Poets. Sam Gabbard had eighteen points and Ben Dorfman had eleven points in the loss. Jennings had nineteen and Contreras had fourteen for the Poets.
The Banana Slugs shot 40.8% (31-76) from the field, 19.2% (5-26) from the three-point line and was 55.6% (5-9) from the free throw line. The Poets shot 55.8% (29-52) from the field, 50% (10-20) from the three-point line and 78.3% (18-23) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced ten turnovers by the Poets scoring fourteen points off the turnovers while the Poets' defense forced eight turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring five points off the turnovers. UC Santa Cruz outrebounded Whittier 39-34 and while the Poets had nineteen more bench points (44-25) than did the Banana Slugs.
The next game for the Banana Slugs will be Tuesday as they take on University of Puget Sound at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Tipoff is set for 2 pm.