THOUSAND OAKS, CA -- The Slugs fell behind early, built a 12 point second half lead and then survived a late rally to earn a heart pounding 69-68 win over the scrappy Cal Lutheran Regals. The smaller Regals out rebounded the Slugs 40-29 and outscored Santa Cruz 28-14 inside the paint. The Slugs, however, shot a sparkling 57% (8 for 14) from the three point line and received balanced scoring from the starting five who contributed 58 of the 69 points. Sarah Mackey led the way with 19 points including 17 in the second half. Erin Joo played a fabulous all around game and dropped in 14. Geena Giovannetti, Leah Parrish and Taylor Willis ably assisted with 10, 8 and 7 points.
The Slugs were Sluggish at the start as the Regals opened a quick 4-0 lead. Parrish ended the drought with a short jumper. Willis hit the first three pointer after Joo drew the defense and made a sweet no look pass. The Slugs led 5-4 but then hit another drought. Cal Lutheran ran off six quick points and the Slugs trailed 10-5 with 15 minutes to go. Sara Crane entered the game and immediately made her presence felt. Crane drilled 1 of 2 free throws, set up Joo for a layup and Giovannetti for a three and then converted a layup to give the Slugs a 13-10 lead. Coach Kent gave his starters a rest and got huge minutes from Lashay Alexander, Sarah Fitzgerald, and Trina Torres. Alexander snatched an amazing 7 rebounds in just 5 minutes. The teams traded blows over the next few minutes with the Regals gaining a slight advantage holding a slim 21-19 lead with 9 minutes to go. Torres made a difficult runner over a defender and Fitzgerald drained a key three. Giovannetti and Joo returned to the floor and both hit threes. The Slugs opened a 28-24 advantage. Once again the Regals rallied. Natalie Stone, who led the Regals with 17 points led a 9-1 run. The Slugs down 33-29 needed a spark and Joo provided it. She was fouled on back to back possessions and made three straight free throws. Down 1 point, Joo attempted to tie the score with just six seconds remaining in the first half. The shot bounced out and the Slugs made a key mistake. Chelsea snatched the miss and hit the streaking Stone. Stone converted the layup and the Regal went in to the half with all the momentum and a 35-32 lead.
The Slugs came out of the break with fire in their eyes. Mackey, who owned the second half, drilled two free throws Giovannetti notched back to back assists, first finding the streaking Willis for a layup and then Joo for a 3. Mackey added two free throws, found Joo for another 3 and then drilled a short jumper. The Slugs led 46-41. Stone momentarily slowed the Slugs run with two free throws. Parrish and Mackey responded with back to back baskets. Giovannetti drained a long three. Mackey scored 5 more points and the Slugs led 63-51 at the 6 minute mark. The Regals refused to fold and their press finally yielded results. Cal Lutheran converted back to back Slug turnovers into baskets and cut the lead to 66-61. A Parrish jumper pushed the difference back to 8 with 56 seconds left but then the game got strange. Giovannetti and Joo appeared to be fouled on consecutive possessions but no calls was made. The Regals converted the miscues into 5 quick points. Trailing 68-66 with 10 seconds remaining, the Regal fouled Willis. Taylor made one of two. The Regals raced up the court and attempted a game tying three. Willis appeared to cleanly block the shot. After a two second delay, a referee whistled a foul giving the Regals 3 shots and a chance to send the game into overtime.
Janelle Porter who was a perfect from the 7 for 7 from the line drained the first two free throws. With the game in the balance, Porter let the third attempt fly. The shot missed. Mackey fought for the rebound but the ball went out of bounds. The referee nearest to the play ruled it Slug ball. Another official overruled the call and gave the Regals one last chance. Only two seconds remained. The hopes for both teams followed the flight of the last shot. The ball bounced harmlessly off the rim and the Slugs escaped with a 1 point victory and a two game season sweep of the Regals.
The Slugs finish the regular season next Saturday in San Diego against Cal State San Marcos.