MEMPHIS (1-3) – UC Santa Cruz played their final game in the state of Tennessee as they took on Rust College as a part of the Rhodes New Year Classic. The Bearcats used a strong defensive effort in the second half to defeat the Banana Slugs 68-55.
Both teams lost their last game. UC Santa Cruz lost to Rhodes College 63-56 yesterday in Memphis while Rust lost 97-93 to Amherst College yesterday in Memphis. Both games were a part of the Rhodes New Year Classic.
In the first half, the Banana Slugs would jump out of the gate on a 7-2 run capped by a Will Crain jumper with 17:01 left in the half. The five point lead would be their largest of the ballgame. The Banana Slugs would hold the Bearcats at arms length for a majority of the half. The Bearcats would take the lead for good at 34-31 on a Ryan Wilkins three pointer with 1:14 left in the half. The Bearcats led 35-31 at the halftime intermission.
In the second half, the Bearcats would continue to stretch their lead. The Bearcats would expand their lead to double digits, at 41-31, on an O'Darius Lowe free throw with 16:52 left. The Banana Slugs would get as close as eight, at 58-50, on a Matthew Ponce layup with 3:03 left. The Bearcats would gain their largest lead of the ballgame at fifteen, at 65-50, on an Allen Potts free throw with 1:28 left. The Bearcats won 68-55 to send the Banana Slug to their second consecutive defeat.
Crain had fifteen points for the Banana Slugs. Lowe had a game high twenty-four points for the Bearcats. Jared Ponce had eleven points and Ben Dorfman and Sam Gabbard had eight points in the loss. Wilkins had fifteen and Ben Shannon had twelve for the Bearcats.
The Banana Slugs shot 37.5% (21-56) from the field, 31.3% (5-16) from the three-point line and was 44.4% (8-18) from the free throw line. The Bearcats shot 35.7% (25-70) from the field, 28.6% (4-14) from the three-point line and 70% (14-20) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced fifteen turnovers by the Bearcats scoring fourteen points off the turnovers while the Bearcats defense forced nineteen turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring twenty points off the turnovers. Rust outrebounded UC Santa Cruz 49-41 and the Bearcats had sixteen more points in the paint (34-18) than did the Banana Slugs.
The Banana Slugs will now return to California as their next game is on Saturday as they will take on NCCAA opponent West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster. Tipoff is set for 5 pm.