SANTA CRUZ - For the second straight, game, Sam Gabbard helped send UC Santa Cruz to overtime. However, the second time, the Banana Slugs didn't let victory to slip away.
The senior forward had a team-high 24 points as UCSC (1-1) won their home opener 111-100 in overtime against Whittier College in the Mission Inn Classic.
UCSC had a 52-29 rebounding edge over the Poets (0-2).
"We did a great job on the glass," said head coach Ron DuBois.
UCSC had a five-point halftime lead, but the Poets tied it at 55-all less than two minutes in the second half. Neither team could shake each other in the second half. Whittier looked like it would hang on, but Gabbard got a putback layup with under twenty seconds to tie it at 91 and finish a 7-0 UCSC run in the last three minutes. The Poets couldn't get a good shot off on their last possession and the Slugs went to their second-straight overtime game.
It was back and forth again until the Slugs were able to closeout the game with rebounding and timely jumpers.
Overall,the game featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes, but UCSC prevailed after shooting 5-8 from the field and 7-8 from the line in the extra five minutes.
"The guys stuck with it. We played well down the stretch. At the end of the day, rebounding was a big factor," said DuBois.
Victor Nwaba led all scorers with 27 points for Whittier, including 5-6 from three.
UCSC closes the Mission Inn Classic Sunday against Pomona-Pitzer.