For the second straight night, UC Santa Cruz went into the last possession with a chance to win and tie, and for the second-straight night the potential buzzer beater missed the mark as UCSC fell 66-64 to Northwestern-St. Paul to close the Eighth annual Hyatt December Classic.
The Eagles (5-7) closed the first quarter on a 5-0 run to take an 18-12 lead after the first ten minutes. UCSC (6-6) responded with an 8-0 run in the first two minutes of the second, capped by Savannah Henson's three, to make it 20-18. The Banana Slugs shot 52.9% in the quarter and had four steals to earn a 35-30 halftime lead.
The Eagles however flipped things in the third quarter, stealing the ball five times and holding UCSC to just two field goals enroute to a 15-6 third quarter to earn a 45-41 lead going into the fourth.
The Eagles gained their biggest lead at 52-43 with 7:04 remaining before UCSC started their comeback. Ashley Kowack, Suhansi Perera and CJ Catina made three three-pointers in succession to get UCSC to within 56-54. Northwestern's Amy Berglund answered with a three of her own to make it 59-54, but Kowack responded with two threes sandwiched around another bomb by Catina to give the Banana Slugs the lead back at 63-61 with under three minutes to play.
Northwestern answered with Miranda Crenshaw hitting 1-2 free-throws and feeding Berglund on a bounce-pass for a layup to get the lead back at 64-63 with 1:24 left.
Kowack then went 1-2 from the line to tie it 13 seconds later. However Crenshaw-to-Berglund worked again to give the Eagles the lead with 0:55.4 seconds left in regulation.
The Banana Slugs missed the shot and Northwestern rebounded, but UCSC turned up the defense on the other end and it paid off with a Kowack steal with 0:15 left. Berglund stole the ball on the inbound but then rolled on the floor for a traveling call, and giving the ball back to UCSC for one more shot.
UCSC however couldn't get the look they wanted and the three-point attempt missed its mark and bounced out of bounds as the buzzer sounded.
The Banana Slugs went 23-67 for 34.3% from the field, including a season-high 14-40 from three-pointers for 35%. The 40 three-pointers was a new school record, bettering the 38 set ironically two years ago against Northwestern in the 2016 December Classic.
UCSC shot 50% from the floor in the fourth (8-16) including 6-11 from long distance. Kowack led UCSC with 18 points and Catina finished with 17. Kowack set a December classic record on three-pointers attempted going 5-15. Catina, who made the All-Tournament team, went 5-9 from long-distance and became the seventh player in school history with 100 made treys.
Kaylee Murphy had team-highs with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
The Eagles shot 27-62 (43.5%) from the field and outrebounded UCSC 50-32 on the night. Crenshaw and Landers each had 12 points to lead Northwestern, with Crenshaw adding a team-high 10 rebounds. Landers contributed 9 rebounds and 4 blocks.
UCSC continues the homestand with the New Year's Eve Classic, beginning Friday the 28th against Grove City at the West Field House.
EIGHTH ANNUAL HYATT DECEMBER CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM