UC Santa Cruz led almost the entire way in Saturday's game against Pacific Lutheran, but the Lutes didn't make it easy for the hosts as the Banana Slugs eventually prevailed 60-57 at the West Field House.
UCSC (1-1) evens their record on the year.
"Hard fought game, a lot of respect for Pacific Lutheran," said UCSC head coach Ron Dubois afterwards. "Proud of how our guys competed."
The Banana Slugs opened with a quick 6-0 lead that forced PLU to call a timeout Led than 90 seconds in. The talk didn't seem to work as PLU turned it over on their next possession and Avri Finch converted the layup to push the lead to 8-0. The Lutes settled down after that and started to hit their shots, but UCSC still held a 30-23 lead at the break.
The game stayed close and set up a thrilling last four minutes. With 3:51 left, Finch nailed to free throws to make it a 51-44 lead. Pacific Lutheran however answered right back with a three by Jacob Bingham that cut it to 51-47. Another three and a Conor Geiger shot gave PLU their first lead at 52-50 with two minutes left.
Simon Mueller-Landsvik answered with a pair of free throws that gave UCSC the lead back with 1:13 left. On the other end, Patrick Ramos got a steal and UCSC called timeout with 1:05 left to plot the game's end. UCSC missed their first shot attempt, but got the rebound back. Ramos then found Ryan Silva who drained a corner three to push the lead to four at 56-52 with 0:44 left.
PLU answered with a layup to cut the lead to 56-54, and then fouled Ramos with under 30 seconds left. Ramos hit both free throws to push the lead back to four. However, on the other end of the court, Jordan Thomas made a layup and was fouled. He hit the free throw to make it 58-57 with 0:07 left. Ramos was fouled on the inbounds, and then made his free throws to make it a three-point lead.
With the last shot of the game, Kelton Williams's off-balance three-attempt didn't fall and UCSC had their first win of the year.
Finch led UCSC with 16 points and Ramos finished with 14 points. Mueller-Landsvik added 6 assists to go with his 6 points and Haakon Ullrich led the Slugs with 11 boards.
UCSC went 16-22 (72.7%) from the line in the game, hitting their last 12 free throws.
Williams had 17 points to lead PLU, while Bingham and Thomas each scored 11.
UCSC finish their weekend Sunday afternoon at Kaiser Permanente Arena when they play Johnson and Wales at 1pm.