SANTA CRUZ, CA — Behind 23 points from Ryane Ortiz and 14 rebounds from Leah Parrish, UC Santa Cruz outlasted Occidental College 63-62. The smaller Slugs out rebounded the Tigers 50-34 and were in control most of the way. Long range shooting by Sarah Fitzgerald and tough finishes by Amanda Spence help build a 32-24 half time lead.
The relentless Slugs expanded the lead to as many as 20 points in the second half as Jean Dulay slashed through the Tiger defense for 10 points and Geena Giovannetti added 8 points. The Tigers cut the lead to 58-45 with 7 minutes to play but a key rebound and basket by Lashay Alexander kept the Tigers at bay.
The Slugs seemed to have the game in hand when Taylor Willis stole the ball and made a pin point pass to the streaking Spence to give the Slugs a 60-50 lead with 3 minutes to go. Desperate to get the ball back, the Tigers fouled at every opportunity. The Slugs aided the Tiger cause by missing 6 of the next 7 free throws. The stage was set for a dramatic finish.
Occidental took advantage as Makenzie Brandon converted a layup off a steal and Crystal Goodwin and Marquisha Corley drilled long 3 pointers to cut the lead to 63-62 with 3 seconds remaining. Once again the Slugs were fouled and obliged the Tigers by missing both throws but Fitzgerald preserved the win by knocking the outlet pass out of bounds as time expired.