SANTA CRUZ (1-15) – The Banana Slugs played their first game of 2016 as they took on NAIA member Simpson University. The Banana Slugs came back from nine down in the fourth quarter to defeat the RedHawks 66-62 and, in the process, snapped their three game losing streak.
Both teams lost their last game. UC Santa Cruz lost 62-49 to Pacific Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks on Monday December 28th while the RedHawks lost to UC Merced 87-75 in Merced last Saturday.
For the first four minutes of the first quarter, both teams would trade baskets and neither team would get into an offensive rhythm. The Banana Slugs would gain the lead and would extend their lead to six, at 12-6, on a Michelle Poole jumper with 5:26 left in the quarter. The RedHawks would then go on an 8-1 run, capped by a Kelsie Jurin layup with twenty five seconds left, to take the lead at 14-13. Ashley Holmes would make a jumper with four seconds left in the quarter to give the Banana Slugs the lead at 15-14. The Banana Slugs led 15-14 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Banana Slugs would slowly expand their lead. After the RedHawks cut the Banana Slugs' lead to 22-21 on an Esther Wofford three pointer with 6:01 left in the half, the Banana Slugs would go on a 9-0 run, capped by a Lashay Alexander layup with 3:54 left in the half, to make the score 31-21. The ten point lead would be the largest of the ballgame for the Banana Slugs. The RedHawks would then go on an 8-2 run to end the half, capped by an Emma Limburg three pointer with nine seconds left, to cut the Banana Slugs' lead to 33-29 at the halftime break.
In the third quarter, Simpson's defense clamped down on the Banana Slugs. Simpson would take the lead, at 37-34, on a Limburg three pointer with eight minutes left in the quarter. The RedHawks would gain their largest lead of the quarter at eight, at 49-41, on a Fallon Greenhaw three pointer with 3:49 left in the quarter. The Banana Slugs would trim the RedHawks' lead to two, at 49-47, on an Ashley Holmes three pointer with 1:59 left. The RedHawks would take a 54-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, the RedHawks would expand their lead. The RedHawks would gain their largest lead of the game at nine, at 56-47, on an Amber Huffhines jumper with 9:34 left. The Banana Slugs would then go on a 9-0 run, capped by an Alexander layup with 6:29 left, to tie the game at 56-56. The Banana Slugs would take the lead for good, at 59-58, on an Alexander layup with 4:12 left. The Banana Slugs would expand their lead to six, at 64-58, on a Tyler Stewart layup with three minutes left. The RedHawks would get as close as four on two occasions; the second occasion was at 66-62 on a Wofford layup with seventeen seconds left. The Banana Slugs won 66-62.
Alexander had a career high twenty two points to lead both teams in scoring. Alexander also had twelve rebounds for the double double. Wofford had fifteen points for the RedHawks. Poole had a double double with thirteen points and ten rebounds and Stewart had twelve points in the win. Greenhaw had fourteen points and Limburg had ten points for the RedHawks.
The Banana Slugs shot 38.7% (24-62) from the field, 28.6% (6-21) from the three-point line and was 50% (12-24) from the free throw line. The RedHawks shot 31.5% (23-73) from the field, 29.2% (7-24) from the three-point line and 75% (9-12) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced sixteen RedHawk turnovers scoring fourteen points off the turnovers while the RedHawks' defense forced twenty one turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring eighteen points off the turnovers. UC Santa Cruz outrebounded Simpson 57-33 and had five more second chance points (13-8).
The Banana Slugs now have less than twenty four hours to savor tonight's victory. The next game for the Banana Slugs will be tomorrow versus NAIA opponent CSU Maritime Academy at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Game time is set for 7 pm.