SANTA CRUZ (11-24) – The Banana Slugs took on University of La Verne at Kaiser Permanente Arena to start the UCSC Thanksgiving Classic. The Banana Slugs outscored the Leopards by fifteen in the second half and won 70-57. The win marked the Banana Slugs second in three games.
In the first half, the Leopards started the game on a 5-0 spurt, the largest of the game for the Leopards. The Banana Slugs would then go on a 14-8 run, capped by a Sam Gabbard jumper with 9:37 left in the half, to take the lead at 14-13. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the half at two, at 15-13, on a Gabbard free throw with 9:01 left. The two teams traded baskets, and the lead, for the remainder of the half. The Leopards led 29-27 at halftime.
In the second half, the Leopards would gain their largest lead of the half at three, at 31-28, on an Evan Gustafson layup with 19:01 left. The Banana Slugs would go on a 7-0 run to get the lead for good at 35-31. The Banana Slugs would gain a double digit lead at 47-37 on a Jack Fitchie free throw with 12:45 left. The Leopards would come as close as five, at 47-42, on a Sinai Enoch three-pointer with 11:26 left. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the ballgame at 62-44 on a Will Crain free throw with 7:13 left.
Gabbard had a game-high twenty-four points to lead the Banana Slugs. Gustafson and Enoch had thirteen points apiece for the Leopards. Tyler Klingenbeck had eleven and Patrick Ramos had eight for the Banana Slugs in the win. Jarid Taylor had eight and Alec Vucinich had seven for the Leopards.
The Banana Slugs shot 40% (24-60) from the field, 17.6% (3-17) from the three-point line and were 57.6% (19-33) from the free throw line. The Leopards shot 37.3% (22-59) from the field, 30.8% (4-13) from the three-point line and 60% (9-15) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced seventeen turnovers by the Leopards scoring eighteen points off the turnovers while the Leopards' defense forced fourteen turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring ten points off the turnovers. UC Santa Cruz outrebounded University of La Verne 51-35 and the Banana Slugs had nine more second chance points (14-5) than did the Leopards.
The next game for the Banana Slugs will be tomorrow as they take on either Colby College or Dominican University (IL) at Kaiser Permanente Arena at noon.