LAS VEGAS - Five Banana Slugs reached double figures as UCSC improved to 6-8 by defeating Wheaton (IL) 80-70 in the D3Hoops.com Classic in Las Vegas.
"I feel we're continuing to build and are close to a breakthrough," said head coach Ron Dubois afterward. "A lot of these guys have been through some battles. Now they're in their second, third year you see their experience pay off."
"I'm excited to see another good opponent for us tomorrow."
Kyle Creighton led the Slugs in scoring with 19, going 7-13 from the field and a perfect 5-5 from the line. Corey Cilia added 14 off the bench on a perfect night going 5-5 field goals and 4-4 free-throws.
Junior Matt Nerland had a career game for the Banana Slugs, scoring 12 points.
"It just felt good. My team set me up for a lot of backdoor layups," Nerland said. "The way (Wheaton) played was alot of gambling and we took advantage. It was a great team win."
Down 12-8 early, UCSC went on a 22-7 run midway through the first half to give them a lead they wouldn't relinquish. They shot 52% in the first half and in the second half pushed the lead to as much as 23 with under 5 minutes left before settling for the ten-point win. UCSC finished 27-56 FG for 48% and were 22-29 free-throws for 76%
Aston Francis led Wheaton (5-4) with 21 points to lead all scorers. The Thunder shot 42.6% (26-61) field goals and were 59% (13-22) on free-throws.
UCSC close the Classic against No. 11 Wisconsin Eau Claire Thursday night.