Sentinel Staff Writer
SANTA CRUZ — Despite getting off to a slow start this season, UC Santa Cruz women's basketball coach Laura Mitchell had faith in her team.
On Saturday night, the Banana Slugs came together in a 69-59 victory over California Pacific Conference South Division rival Notre Dame de Namur University.
The victory marked the end of a successful weekend for the Slugs, who won back-to-back conference games at home on consecutive nights. Santa Cruz upped its Cal Pac record to 2-1 and its overall record to 3-11.
"It was nerve-wracking and tighter than the final score," Mitchell said. "We couldn't seem to shake them until the last minute. They were very good from the free throw line, and we weren't."
The Argonauts (1-2 in CalPac) hit 18 of 21 free throw attempts and were perfect in the second half (12-of-12.)
By contrast UCSC went 19-for-31 from the line. But in the final four minutes, with the game on the line, the Slugs made 9 of 13 free throws. The clutch shooting helped UCSC pull away from Notre Dame and increase its two-point lead (59-57) to 10 points.
"This game was different because it was the first time we've put two halves together," Mitchell said. "A lot of our losses happened because we only played well in sections. Our team is so deep — 15 players who all play hard."
One player who helped UCSC during its decisive 12-0 run early in the second half was senior forward Allison Arnese. Mitchell turned to the 5-foot-10 Arnese after the team fell behind 35-31 just three minutes into the half.
In just four minutes, Arnese played incredible pressure defense and scored each of her four points. When she returned to the bench, the Slugs' lead was 47-37. The team never trailed again.
Baudler outshot Notre Dame's Renee Polheber 23-21 for game-high scoring honors. Faria also finished with 14 points. Notre Dame's Vanessa Avila and Christina Darling were the game's top rebounders with six each.
UCSC will go for three in a row on Friday, when they play host to Menlo College at 5:30 p.m. in the West Fieldhouse.