Hot shooting pushes Banana Slugs past Pioneers

Photo by Herb Decker
Photo by Herb Decker

SANTA CRUZ - With the season winding down, UC Santa Cruz is hitting their stride at the right time.

UCSC shot 52% from the field and was a perfect 7-7 from the free-throw line in a 91-66 win over Pacific Union (9-12).

It was the 16th win for the Banana Slugs this season and 50th win for the Senior Class, both marks extending the school record.

For the second straight game, UCSC never trailed, but Pacific Union didn't make it easy. The Pioneers used a lot of full court pressure and quick shots to keep it close early. UCSC however used good three-point shooting and rebounding to pull away. The Slugs ended the first half on an 18-10 run to lead by 20 (47-27) at the half, punctuated by Tyler Klingenbeck's three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Banana Slugs opened the second half on an 8-0 run courtesy of a Tre Weston layup and a pair of Andrew Jones three-pointers to push the lead to 28 and force a Pacific Union timeout. The Pioneers applied pressure again and slowly chipped away. Rae Hubbard hit a pair of deep threes of his own to cap a 13-3 Pioneer run that placed PUC only down 68-56 with under 10 minutes to go. That's as close as the visitors came however as UCSC used their size inside again to control the boards and extend the lead again.

The Banana Slugs had a 47-28 advantage on the boards and were 10-23 (43.5%) from three-point range. In the second half, UCSC a 6-11 from distance while the Pioneers were just 3-15 from three-pointers.

Sam Gabbard led the Slugs again in almost every category, with team-highs of 20 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Kyle Creighton added 14 points and 7 rebounds. Weston had 10 points and 7 rebounds to gain 505 boards for his career and pass James Townsend (2012-15) for third place in the school's career list. 

Jones and Corey Cilia each scored 16 points and were a combined 8-15 from three.

Noel Briones led PUC with 14 points and Hubbard added 13.

UCSC's homestand continues Wednesday with a big matchup against Cal Lutheran at 7pm.