LA VERNE (12-29) – UC Santa Cruz played their second to last game of the 2015 calendar year as they took on University of La Verne in La Verne. The Banana Slugs would jump out to a fast start and would hold on at the end to win 70-65 to break their two game losing streak.
Both teams lost their last contest. UC Santa Cruz lost 81-70 to University of Puget Sound last Tuesday in Santa Cruz while the Leopards lost to University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 84-51 yesterday in La Verne.
In the first half, the Banana Slugs jumped out of the gate with an 18-5 run capped by a Jared Ponce three pointer with 14:37 left in the half. The thirteen-point lead for the Banana Slugs was their largest of the ballgame. The Leopards would then go on an 11-0 run, capped by a Jordan Stokes layup with nine minutes left in the half, to make the score 18-16. The Banana Slugs would expand their lead back to five on two occasions; the second at 33-28 on a Corey Cilia three pointer with forty seconds left. The Banana Slugs led 33-30 at the halftime intermission.
In the second half, the two teams would play a very close game. The Leopards would start the half on a 7-2 run, capped by a Hakim Arnold jumper with 17:56 left, to take the lead at 37-35. The two-point lead for the Leopards was their largest of the ballgame. The Banana Slugs would take the lead for good at 39-37 on a Will Crain jumper with 17:06 left. The Banana Slugs would expand their lead to seven, at 50-43, on a pair of Cilia free throws with 13:13 left. The Leopards would get back into the ballgame with a 7-0 run, capped by a Stokes jumper with 10:33 left, to tie the game at 50-50. The Banana Slugs would expand their lead again on the strength of three three pointers – two by Andrew Jones and one by Adam Marlow – to give the Banana Slugs a 59-50 lead with 8:39 left. The closest the Leopards would come the rest of the game would be two on two occasions; the second occasion coming at 61-59 on a Khaneal Mason layup with 3:23 left. The Banana Slugs would win the ballgame 70-65.
Sam Gabbard had a game high twenty-one points for the Banana Slugs. Arnold had thirteen points for the Leopards. Crain had ten points and Jared Ponce had nine points in the win. Mason had ten and Evan Gustafson had nine, off the bench, for the Leopards.
The Banana Slugs shot 44.8% (26-58) from the field, 38.1% (8-21) from the three-point line and was 52.6% (10-19) from the free throw line. The Leopards shot 35.7% (25-70) from the field, 13% (3-23) from the three-point line and 52.2% (12-23) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced eleven turnovers by the Leopards scoring nine points off the turnovers while the Leopards' defense forced seventeen turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring thirteen points off the turnovers. UC Santa Cruz outrebounded University of La Verne 45-44 while the Leopards had ten more points off the bench (27-17) than did the Banana Slugs.
The next game for the Banana Slugs will be tomorrow as they take on University of Redlands in Redlands. Tipoff is set for 5 pm.