MERCED (11-15) – The Banana Slugs would start the 2016-2017 season on the road as they took on NAIA member UC Merced. The Banana Slugs used a 28-7 second half run to win 68-56.
The Banana Slugs had a 10-15 record in their 2015-16 campaign. In their last game, the Golden Bobcats fell 78-43, in an exhibition, to NCAA Division II member Stanislaus State University in Turlock.
In the first half, the Banana Slugs would start the game on an 8-4 spurt capped by an Adam Marlow three pointer with fourteen minutes left. The four point lead was their largest of the half. The Golden Bobcats would get back into the ballgame and would take the lead at 17-15 on an Aaron Laflin jumper with 9:10 left in the half. The Golden Bobcats would take their largest lead of the half at 25-17 on a Matt Laflin free throw with 5:52 left in the half. From that point, the Banana Slugs would go on a 12-0 run, capped by a Kyle Creighton three pointer, to give the Banana Slugs a 29-25 lead with 2:45 left. The Golden Bobcats would score the last five points of the half to give the Golden Bobcats a 30-29 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Golden Bobcats would score the first five points of the half to take a 35-29 lead with 18:47 left in the game. The Golden Bobcats would gain their largest lead of the game at nine, at 49-40, on an Andrew Williams jumper with 12:23 left. From that point, the Banana Slugs would go on the aforementioned 28-7 run. The Banana Slugs would gain the lead for good, at 53-52, on a Ben Dorfman three pointer with 7:04 left. The Banana Slugs would stretch their lead to double figures, at 66-56, after the second of two Crieghton free throws with thirty five seconds left. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the game at twelve, at 68-56, on a Corey Cilia free throw with twenty one seconds left. The Banana Slugs won the game 68-56 and garnered their first season opening win since 2001.
Creighton had fifteen points to lead the Banana Slugs in the win. Laflin had a game high nineteen points off the bench for the Golden Eagles. Cilia had fourteen points and Adam Marlow had ten points for the Banana Slugs. Cole Taira had ten for the Golden Bobcats in the loss.
The Banana Slugs shot 41.2% (21-51) from the field, 47.4% (9-19) from the three-point line and was 70.8% (17-24) from the free throw line. The Golden Bobcats shot 31.8% (21-66) from the field, 15.6% (5-32) from the three-point line and 64.3% (9-14) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced ten turnovers by the Golden Bobcats scoring sixteen points off the turnovers while the Golden Eagles' defense forced twenty four turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring seventeen points off the turnovers. UC Santa Cruz outrebounded UC Merced 46-27 while the Golden Bobcats had fifteen more points off the bench (28-13) than did the Banana Slugs.
The Banana Slugs will now start a five game homestand. The next game for the Banana Slugs is Friday as they take on California Lutheran University at Kaiser Permanente Arena. The game against the Kingsmen tips off the Mission Inn Classic. Tip off is set for 1:30 pm.