TACOMA, WA - In their second ever NCAA appearance, UC Santa Cruz lost to hosts Puget Sound 93-74 in the opening round of the 2017 Division III women's tournament.
UCSC ends their season at 14-11 while Puget Sound goes to 26-2 and advances to take on conference rival Whitman in the next round.
UCSC stayed close early against their heralded opponents. Tyler Stewart opened scoring with a layup to give the Slugs the first score.
UCSC led 15-14 at the end of the first in a quarter featuring three ties and seven lead changes.
The game stayed close until the hosts found their rhythm in the second quarter. A 13-3 run pushed the Loggers to a 34-23 lead. UCSC then answered back with Jasmin Dimson making a layup and then a three-pointer to put the underdog Slugs within six (34-28) 3:46 until halftime.
The Loggers finished however on a 10-4 run to lead by 12 at the break, outscoring UCSC 30-17 overall in the quarter.
UCSC fought back in the third quarter, opening on a 12-5 run on four three-pointers that cut Puget Sound's lead to 49-44 with 5:54 left, bookended by Stewart's deep trey.
The Loggers then answered with a definitive 17-4 run the rest of the quarter to push the lead to 66-48 and would not let UCSC get under 15 points the rest of the way.
Stewart had a career-high 25 points to lead the Slugs, going 7-10 from three-point land. The seven treys matched Kayleigh Calandri for the second-highest single-game mark in school history.
Fellow Senior Michelle Poole had 11 points. Sonya Ivanovic and Katie Young had 13 and 10 respectively to complete the Slug quartet of double-figure scorers. Overall the Slugs were 13 of 36 (36.1%) for threes, the fourth-most attempts in school-history.
The Loggers were led by Jamie Lange with 30 points and 14 rebounds. Alexis Noren added 15 points and eight boards.
Puget Sound outrebounded the Slugs 56-32 and went 26-31 from the line (83.9%). UCSC went 13 of 23 (56.5%) on free-throws.
Head Coach Todd Kent -UPS is definitely a top 5 team. They have a lot of good pieces and the right things in place for a deep run in the tournament. I've known coach Loree Payne for a long time and she's developed this team into a national title contender.
It's been a special year. It's a really good group of kids. They're willing to put in the work and they get along very well. It's been a lot of fun. I'm sad to see it end but tonight they did good job executing the game plan.
Senior forward Michelle Poole-We got the looks we wanted. With Tyler on the team we can count on heating up. In the fourth, we ran the same thing every time and they couldn't stop her.
Everyone on the team can shoot the three coach gives us the confidence to shoot the ball and let it fly. If it falls it falls, if not try your hardest to rebound.
Senior guard Tyler Stewart- We played well in the first quarter. I think we had a little bit of jitters coming in: Playing on your opponent's home court; their crowd is fun eccentric and loud.
I let them get to me a little bit, but the second half we all came out and thought "OK. Basketball. That's over, let's just focus on the win."
Which we didn't end up doing but I think it's a good lesson for the younger players in future years when they make the tournament: In the first half –focus up; play like you would in the second half. That will help us be successful.