VALLEJO - Sam Gabbard hit a 40-foot three-pointer as time expired to give UC Santa Cruz a wild 73-72 win at Cal Maritime.
The senior, who grew up 25 miles away in Vacaville, finished with team-highs 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to help the Banana Slugs improve to 11-10 and win their fifth-straight game.
"The plan was if he made both free throws, we were going to call time out, but he misses it and I get the rebound," explained Gabbard after. "I'm trying to get it up to Simon but he's being defended. I realize you just have to push it and get your shot. I let it fly and the rest happened.
"I was so happy- probably the best shot of my career."
Down 34-29 at halftime, the Banana Slugs opened the second half on a 9-3 run and took the lead 38-37 on Tyler Klingenbeck's three-pointer. After that, the game went back and forth. The lead changed a total of 14 times and there were eight ties. Trailing 71-70, Will Crain got a block and UCSC raced down with under eight seconds left to possibly win it, but Gabbard turned it over on a charge. The Banana Slugs had to foul to send Maritime's Xavier Lucero to the line for a 1-and-1 with 4.6 seconds, setting the stage for the Slugs' last opportunity.
"I got the charge and I was kind of flustered, but you keep your composure," said Gabbard. "Game's not over until it's over."
Gabbard passes Ray Wilson (1989-92) for 4th place on the UCSC career scoring chart and now has 1,189 points in his career. Crain finished with 13 points and Klingenbeck had 10. Justin Eisen led Cal Maritime with 20, including six of the Keelhaulers' 13 three-pointers.
UCSC shot 28-64 (43.8%) from the field compared to Cal Maritime's 26-58 (44.8%). While the hosts shot 13 threes to UCSC's 5, the Slugs had a slight advantage at the line, shooting 12-17 (70.6%) free throws compared to Cal Maritime going 7-9 (77.8%).
The Banana Slugs next play two games in southern California, starting with a rematch at Cal Lutheran on Saturday.