SANTA CRUZ, CA -- Six seniors were honored tonight as the UC Santa Cruz women's basketball program played their final game of the 2014-2015 regular season. Their opponent was CSU San Marcos and much like the games in the two schools' history, the game was tight throughout. The Cougars came away with a 57-56 overtime victory.
Both teams were coming off wins in their last contest. UC Santa Cruz was coming off a 90-51 win over Bristol University last Saturday in Santa Cruz and CSU San Marcos won 51-50 over San Diego Christian College in Oceanside on Wednesday.
The two teams traded baskets early in the contest. The Banana Slugs would take the lead at 9-7 with 14:01 left in the half on a Geena Giovanetti three point play. The Banana Slugs would gain their largest lead of the game at eight, at 19-11, on a Sarah Mackey layup with 8:59 left in the half. The Cougars would claw their way back into the game and then would take the lead with 3:33 left on a Brianna Higgins layup to make the score 26-24. The Banana Slugs would outscore the Cougars 5-2 over the next two minutes to take a 29-28 lead with 1:21 left in the half. Kimberly Kipp would convert on a layup with no time remaining in the half to give the Cougars a 30-29 lead going into the halftime intermission.
In the second half, the Cougars would expand their lead to seven, their largest of the game, at 38-31 with 15:49 left on a Kylie Coppi jumper. The Banana Slugs would claw their way back into the ballgame and would tie the game at 40-40 on a Leah Parrish layup with 9:39 left and would take the lead, at 43-40, on their next possession on a Giovannetti three pointer with 8:47 left. The Cougars would regain the lead at 45-43 on a Heather Thompson layup with 6:55 left. The two teams would trade the lead back and forth through the remainder of the game. After Sarah Fitzgerald hit a free throw with fourteen seconds left to give the Banana Slugs a 50-48 lead, Alex Alvarado hit a jumper to tie the game with five seconds left to tie the game at 50-50. Fitzgerald's half-court game winner attempt bounced twice on the front rim and fell out and the game went into overtime tied at 50-50.
In the overtime frame, the Banana Slugs would score the first six points to give them a 56-50 lead with 3:18 left. However, the Banana Slugs would not score again during the remainder of the game. The Cougars would go on a 7-0 run capped by a Thompson layup with five seconds left which proved to be the game winner. The Cougars won the game 57-56.
Parrish had a double double with eighteen points and twelve rebounds. Thompson had a game high twenty one points and a game high sixteen rebounds for the Cougars. Giovannetti had ten points in the loss. Alvarado and Mackanzie Harnett both had nine points for the Cougars.
The Banana Slugs shot 30.4% (21-69) from the field, 14.3% (3-21) from the three point line and was 64.7% (11-17) from the free throw line. The Cougars shot 32.8% (21-64) from the field, 18.2% (2-11) from the three point line and 68.4% (13-19) from the foul line. UC Santa Cruz's defense forced twenty three Cougar turnovers scoring sixteen points off the turnovers while the Cougars' defense forced thirteen turnovers by UC Santa Cruz scoring eleven points off the turnovers. CSU San Marcos outrebounded UC Santa Cruz 59-39 and the Cougars had four more second chance points (8-4) than did the Banana Slugs.
The Banana Slugs finished the regular season with a 17-8 record. The Banana Slugs' season now rests in the hands of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament Selection Committee. The tournament bracket will be released on Monday at 11:30 am.