SANTA CRUZ (11-10) – The Banana Slugs played the first game of the Slugs Tipoff Classic at West Field as they took on California Lutheran University. The Banana Slugs defeated the Kingsmen 68-65.
In their last game, the Banana Slugs lost 58-47 to University of Redlands on Saturday at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Tonight's game was the first of the season for the Kingsmen.
In the first half, the Kingsmen took their largest lead of the ballgame at two, at 2-0, on an Austin Cole layup with 18:17 left in the half. The Banana Slugs would then go on a 7-3 spurt, capped by a Will Crain layup, to give the Banana Slugs the lead at 7-5 with 15:22 left in the half. The Banana Slugs gained a double digit lead, at 21-10, on a Sam Gabbard layup with 9:46 left in the half. The Banana Slugs would take their largest lead of the ballgame at 29-17, on a Crain layup with 5:21 left in the half. The Kingsmen would respond with a half-ending 12-5 run, capped by a Michael Wadsworth jumper with twenty-eight seconds left, to trim the Banana Slugs' lead to 34-29 at the halftime intermission.
In the second half, the Banana Slugs would hold the Kingsmen at arms' length for the majority of the half. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the half at 48-40 on a Rashard Thornhill layup with 12:02 left. The Kingsmen would then go on a 9-2 run, capped by an Austin Cole three pointer with 10:27 left, to trim the Banana Slugs' lead to 50-49. The teams would trade baskets for the next nine minutes of clock time. With 1:16 left, Wadsworth made a three pointer to give the Kingsmen a 65-64 lead. On the ensuing possession, Gabbard made two free throws with thirty-nine seconds to give the Banana Slugs a 66-65 lead. Kyle Ferreira missed a jumper with ten seconds left and the Banana Slugs hit two of four free throws in their final two possessions to claim the 68-65 victory.
Gabbard had a game-high twenty-four points to lead the Banana Slugs. Patrick Ramos added fourteen and Crain had ten in the win.
Ferreira had nineteen points for the Kingsmen and Austin Cole had sixteen.
The Banana Slugs shot 44.3% (27-61) from the field, 30.8% (4-13) from the three-point line and were 71.4% (10-14) from the free throw line. The Kingsmen shot 41.4% (24-58) from the field, 38.5% (10-26) from the three-point line and 77.8% (7-9) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced fifteen turnovers by the Kingsmen scoring ten points off the turnovers while the Kingsmen defense also forced fifteen turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring eleven points off the turnovers. UC Santa Cruz outrebounded California Lutheran 38-33 and the Banana Slugs had twelve more points in the paint (34-22).
The next game for the Banana Slugs will be on Sunday as they take on Pacific University at Kaiser Permanente Arena at 12:30 pm.