SANTA CRUZ, CA -- Geena Giovannetti and Sarah Mackey combined for 36 points, 18 rebounds, 6 steals 5 assists and 3 blocks as the Slugs came from behind to nip the Bethesda Flames 61-58 on Senior night. A raucous home crowd came out to say goodbye to Seniors Melody Barooni, Ryane Ortiz and Taylor Willis. This excellent group of Seniors helped bring the UC Santa Cruz Women's basketball team to a new level. Just four years ago the Slugs won only 5 of 27 games. The Slugs improved their 2013 record to 16-6 and the Leadership and overall skill provided by these Seniors will be sorely missed.
This game was a defensive struggle in the first half. When Mackey made a layup with 9 minutes to go the teams were tied at 11. Mackey added two free throws. Giovannetti converted a layup off a steal and the Slugs lead 15-11, The team traded baskets over the next few minutes. Lashay Alexander kept the Flames at bay with back to back jumpers. The Slugs held a slim 19-13 lead with 3 minutes to go. Jumpers by Mackey and Alexander inflated the lead to nine points but the Flames responded with a jumper by Lisette Longomo and a three point bomb by Brittney Bramlett. The first half closed with a strange sequence. The Slugs held the ball for the last shot. Alexander got a good look but missed. Giovannetti raced in and was fouled trying to tip in the shot at the buzzer. Giovannetti converted one of two and the Slugs led 28-21 but the coach for Bethesda objected too vigorously and was assed a technical as the teams left the floor.
Giovannetti started the second half scoring by converting the two free throws from the technical. Leah Parrish followed with a sweet jumper and the Slugs were rolling. Giovannetti converted two more free throws and Mackey hit a jumper. The Slugs lead ballooned to 36-21 at the 16 minute mark. The Flames dropped in five quick points but Trina Torres ended the run by snatching an errant Flame pass and hit the streaking Sarah Fitzgerald for an easy layup. Sara Crane, who was a one women wrecking crew on the offensive boards, converted two free throws. Erin Joo added a deuce. The Slugs seemed in control when Parrish hit 1 of 2 from the line. UC Santa Cruz held what seemed to be a commanding 52-41 lead with only 6 minutes to go. Suddenly the Slugs went cold and the Flames heated up. Emille Munnandibiu ignited a 15-1 Flame run with plays at both ends of the floor. With one minute to go, the Slugs stared at a 56-53 deficit. Giovannetti responded with a jumper. Parrish hit two free throws but the Slugs still trailed 58-57 with only 38 seconds left. Coach Kent had a decision to make. Foul and hope the Bethesda missed a free throw or play defense and try to force a turnover. Coach Kent rolled the dice and selected defense. The Slugs pressed all over the floor and Willis forced an errant pass. The Flames committed a back court violation and the Slugs earned one last chance.
Parrish set a vicious screen on Munnandibiu which freed Mackey for an easy layup. Mackey converted and the Slugs led 59-58 with 18 seconds to go. The Flames got an open 3 point look for the win but it bounced off the rim. Mackey collided with a Flame player as she fell to the floor with the ball. The referees ruled the play a jump ball. The possession arrow pointed the Slugs way. The Bethesda coach ferociously argued for a travel. The result was another technical. Giovannetti converted the two free throws and the Slugs escaped with the win.
The Slugs next adventure is against Menlo College on Thursday.