UCSC 58 Austin 68

SANTA CRUZ, CA—For their last game of the 2014-15 season, the UCSC Slugs remained in the Lone Star State to battle the Austin College Kangaroos in Sherman, TX. Although Santa Cruz had won four of its last five contests, they fell short of another victory—tumbling the match 58-68 fueled behind Austin’s Kevin Graham, whom scored 26 points to end the Slugs season.

The Kangaroo guard displayed his marksmanship shooting 8-14 from the field, including a 7-8 performance from three-point territory. The result was a ten point victory as Austin improves to (8-17) for the season, while the Slugs fall to (12-13) to end theirs. Austin also spoils the opportunity for UCSC to finish with a winning record, which would have been the first under head coach Ron DuBois in his three year tenure.

The Slugs had a cold shooting night in Sherman; the team accumulated a 29 % shooting percentage going 18-62 from the field, including 6-25 for three-point attempts. On the other hand, Austin dominated the post. Not only did they out-rebound Santa Cruz 43-31, by they also scored eight more points in the paint for a total of 20-28. UCSC did not lead once in this match.

Senior forward, James Townsend, concludes his basketball career at UCSC. In his last game wearing a Slugs uniform, Townsend notched a double-double. He finished the game tied for a team high of 19 points while grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his three steals. Guard Jared Ponce also finished tied with 19 points, including a 10-12 free throw performance. Still, their efforts were not enough alone as their defense allowed Austin to shoot 54.3% from the field—riding the hot hand of Graham.

Although Santa Cruz finishes the season a game under .500 and misses the NCAA Tournament, there were still milestone accomplishments. The Slugs underwent a series of transitions during the course of the year. They saw the addition of several new key players, including the recruitment of several freshmen.

Santa Cruz also experimented with several lineups to commence the season, often relying on freshman to play big minutes while looking to their upperclassman for guidance. Coach DuBois helped turn around a 4-21 team the previous year into a 12-13 team this year, an eight game improvement. Santa Cruz saw significant improvements to their bench play and played strong defense as the season progressed as well.

As the season ends, the Slugs will look to grow the talent in their underclassmen. With starting anchors Townsend and Marshall Arnwine Jr. graduating, the team hopes to find new leaders to induce the roles as veterans of the team. Their departure also leaves two holes in the starting lineup. With a whole summer ahead, DuBois and staff will have some time to evaluate their talent to find replacements. In the meantime, the off-season begins with higher expectations in 2015-16.

Slug Basketball will resume in November. Thank you for joining us this season!

By Javier Gutierrez                                                              

*All stats acquired from Goslugs.com




UCSC 56 Southwestern 74


SANTA CRUZ, CA—With two games remaining in their season, the Slugs head up to Texas in hopes of adding to their record breaking year for most wins in its men’s basketball school history. UCSC (12-11) prepared for battle against Southwestern University (13-10) in the Lone Star State. Despite the games’ close start, the Pirates dominated the Slugs as they jumped to a 32-19 lead at the half and eventually cruised to a 74-56 victory.

The Pirates Blake Scott scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds as Southwestern fought off Santa Cruz in a rout on Saturday Feb.21st, thus eclipsing the Slugs winning streak at five. The defeat also squanders the opportunity for UCSC to ensure a winning record as they can now, at best, finish at .500 for the season with win in their next contest.

The game was neck-and-neck as it commenced with score of 4-2 after UCSC’s Adam Marlow hit a jumper within opening minutes of the match. However, momentum quickly shifted in favor of Southwestern as they asserted their dominance throughout the game; they played great defense holding the Slugs to seven made field goals for the opening half.

The Pirates Chris Lee capped a 22-12 lead with roughly six minutes remaining after his jumper. Despite Santa Cruz attempts to trim the lead, it was Lee who hit an additional free throw to give Southwestern a 19-32 lead heading into their locker room.  

The second half was no different. UCSC struggled to establish a rhythm on defense allowing 42 points in the half; an uncharacteristic trait for Santa Cruz considering they have played outstanding defense lately. The Pirates were in total command of this game, attaining their large lead of 23 following a score deficit of 52-29 with 13:28 remaining in the game. It was smooth sailing from then on as Southwestern secured a 74-56 victory at home.

The Slugs also struggled on offense, turning the ball over 22 times leading to 14 points for their foes. Furthermore, Santa Cruz couldn’t keep the Pirates off the free throw lane. They went 22-33 from the charity stripe, which also contributed to the deficit while Santa Cruz only made six of their attempted 15 free throws.

In addition, Santa Cruz’s second unit had a quiet night. For a bench that has been on a tear lately, they tallied 25 points and were outscored by two. Starting guard Jared Ponce and sixth man Tyler Berkness finished with a team high 11 points for the Slugs in what was a quiet offensive night.

The loss brings Santa Cruz to a 12-12 record. Their next game will also be their last of the season as the Slugs will stay in Texas to play Austin tomorrow (Feb.22). The Slugs hope to come away with a victory to ensure a winning record for the season—it would be the first under head coach Ron DuBois. An achievement UCSC will try to accomplish.

By Javier Gutierrez (UC Santa Cruz, 2015)

*All stats acquired from Goslugs.com

UCSC 77 Occidental 60


SANTA CRUZ, CA—The Slugs took to the road their 11-11 record as they embarked on their three-game road trip to conclude the season. The first stop of this trip included a visit to neighboring Southern California where UCSC squared off against Occidental College on Feb. 13, 2015. The Slugs are coming off an emotional victory after defeating UC Merced 70-62 in their last home game of the 2014-15 season. A game in which they not only tied a school record for most wins in a single season, but also giving the seniors one last victory on their home court before biding them farewell. 

A win today would set a new school record for most wins in a single season and it was a goal Santa Cruz was poised to accomplish. The Slugs rode their strong start to a 38-30 lead at halftime. They didn’t look back from there as they cruised to a 77-60 rout over the Tigers. Despite the negative connotations associated with Friday the 13th, the Slugs where in no need of luck as today's victory pushes their winning streak to five. It also brings their record to 12-11, marking the first time the Slugs own a winning record this season. 

The contest got off to a close start; both teams were neck-to-neck with a score of 17-17 with 11:17 left in the first half.  It was difficult for either team to create separation as they battled back and forth. A key moment for Santa Cruz was Tyler Berkness hitting a three-pointer to give the Slugs a 28-23 lead with 5:16 remaining. It fueled UCSC’s drive as they closed the first quarter on an 8-2 scoring run, giving them the 38-30 lead at the half. Despite the similarity in the stats, it was the Slugs strong defense that forced 14 first half turnovers that aided them in attaining the halftime lead.

The second half was no different as the Slugs hot-shooting set the tone for a dominating finish. Santa Cruz was able to push their lead to ten after Jared Ponce’s layup with 14:04 reaming. The Slugs were in total control after that bucket. They stretched their lead even further to a defect of 18 with a score of 66-48 after an additional Berkness triple. The Slugs strong effort on the court carried them to a 39-30 second half score. James Townsend finished with a game high 17 points and 3 steals to go along with his 7 rebounds. Berkness provided a spark of the bench with his double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds to help the Slugs secure the win.

A key to today’s victory was UCSC defense once again. The Slugs played stout defense forcing 21 turnovers for the game. They were also able to hold the Tigers to 32.1% shooting percentage (17-53 from the field) while shooting nearly 43 % themselves going (27-63) from the field. In addition to the Slugs great shooting performance, Santa Cruz also bullied their way in the paint. UCSC scored 34 points inside the box compared to Occidental’s 18 points total.  It was an easy night at the rim for the players as they controlled their way inside with ease. The Slugs also received a huge left from their bench as they scored 34 points throughout the game compared to their opponents 22. It marks the 10th time in the last 12th games the Slugs have outscored their opponents bench. The surge in UCSC’s offense lead to an accumulation of 15 assist while Occidental had a hard time dealing with Santa Cruz defense, stocking a total of 9 dimes themselves for the game.

Today’s victory brings the Slugs record to 12-11 for the season and increases their winning streak to five. The 12 victories also set a new school record for most wins in a single season. For a team compiled of majority underclassmen, it is a huge accomplishment considering the team went through “growing pains” when they won a total of four games last season. Santa Cruz has an opportunity to add to that record as they head up to Texas to finish up the season. A place where they hope to solidify Slug history because a victory would mean UCSC will finish the season with a winning record. It will be difficult challenge as they face Southwestern (Tex.) University on Feb. 21, 2015 and stay in Texas to play against Austin the following day.

By Javier Gutierrez (UC Santa Cruz, 2015)                         

*All stats acquired from Goslugs.com

UCSC 70 UC Merced 62


SANTA CRUZ, CA—With four games remaining, the Slugs look to ride the momentum of their three game winning streak to conclude the season. They entered today’s contest with a chance to reach a .500 record after undergoing a six game losing skid earlier in the season. Today is also an opportunity for the seniors to leave their legacy out in the court, as it will be their last home in a Slug uniform—senior night—for the few players on the squad.

The Slugs are coming off one of the team’s worst seasons in its school basketball history after undergoing a 4-21 record in 2013-14. A year later, the Slugs are currently 10-11 with a chance to finish the season with the most wins in its program history. Thus, today’s win not only ties a school mark for most victories in a season at 11, but it also gets Santa Cruz over the hurdle of a losing record.

Santa Cruz hosted UC Merced Tuesday (02/10/15) evening in the Slugs last home game of the season. Leading up to today’s contest, UCSC is coming off a 62-59 victory in their last game against Menlo College. The Slugs hope today would be no different as the match tipped off.

Coach DuBois elected to go with F-Creighton, F-Townsend, G-J Ponce, G-Arwine Jr and G-Marlow, whom have served as his anchor at the starting line-up after shuffling between players earlier this season. Despite being a team composed of majority underclassmen, Townsend and Arwine Jr were some of the few seniors who played in today’s game. The opening half was closely contested as both competitors fought hard for 30-26 score in favor of Merced at halftime. However, trailing would not matter for the Slugs as they surged their way to a 70-62 victory over the Bobcats. Biding their fellow seniors farewell and push their winning streak to four.

The game got off to a back and forth start, as Santa Cruz was able to take 6-4 lead on Jared Ponce’s jumper within the opening minutes of the game. However, senior night seemed to be quickly overshadowed by Merced’s convincing performance. The Bobcats took a 26-17 lead with 4:42 remaining, quitting the crowd in what looked to be a bitter ending at Kaiser Permanente Arena. As game looked to be in doubt, the tide would turn after several Ponce lay-ups. UCSC would then cut the lead even further after a pair of Ponce free throws to make it 30-26, with Merced leading at the half.

In spite of the early scare, UCSC was able to cruise in the second half with 44 points scored, nearly doubling their total from the first. Townsend initiated the second half on his three-pointer to diminish the lead even further to 30-29. Fittingly, it was the senior Townsend who would aid the Slugs comeback. Not only did his lay-up give Santa Cruz a 35-37 lead with 15:46 remaining, but his performance would help clinch the game. He finished with 13 points, a game high of 15 rebounds to go along with 3 steals and blocks. 

It was the seniors who showed their experience by keeping their composure as the game progressed when things looked out of hand. Arwine Jr contributed with 6 points and 9 rebounds. He also had a key tip-in to stretch the Slugs lead to 49-39 with 12:05 remaining in the second half. It was all smooth sailing from there as Santa Cruz would ease to a 70-62 victory over Merced

A big key to UCSC’s victory was their ability to control the other aspects of the game aside from scoring. Aspects such as: defense, rebounding, ball movement and through overall effort. The Slugs tenacious defense was able to hold Merced to (26-60) from the field for a shooting percentage of 40%. They also bullied their way on the glass, out-rebounding the Bobcats 48-35 total. Some of those rebounds led to 20 second chance points, which could have very well been the difference today. The Slugs also displayed their excellent ball movement; gaining 16 assists on 28 made field goals, nine more assist than Merced accumulated—a pretty remarkable stat.

Today’s victory against UC Merced brings the Slugs to an 11-11 record, and pushes their winning streak to four. The 11 wins is a tie for the most triumphs in program history; a nice way to conclude senior night for the few players who were a part of last season’s misfortune. UCSC’s next game will come against Occidental, as the Slugs take to the road their record and hope to set a new one for most wins in a season. It won’t come easy as the Slugs will head down to Southern California before heading up to Texas for two more games to wrap up the season. A challenge the Slugs will certainly be eager to meet.

By Javier Gutierrez (UC Santa Cruz, 2015) 

*All stats acquired from Goslugs.com


Senior James Townsend hits a Game Winner. Slugs earn 3rd Straight Victory 

SANTA CRUZ, CA—the men’s basketball team at UCSC has been on an absolute tear as of late. Not only have they been playing outstanding defense, but they have begun to pick up the offense slack to the tune of their recent success. The Slugs are fresh off a 64-48 victory against Bethesda University on Jan. 17. They looked to continue their strong drive as Menlo College strolled into town—who are less than an hour drive away from Santa Cruz. Coach DuBois deployed his lineup of F-Creighton, F-Townsend, G-J Ponce, G-Arwine Jr and G-Marlow, which has been giving him consistent production on the court. The opening half was neck-and-neck as both teams took a 31-31 stalemate into halftime. However, thanks to some late heroics, the Slugs were able to battle back for 62-59 victory over Menlo College—achieving their first three game winning streak of the season.

“As a program, we are starting to learn how to win. How to accept adversity and find a way,” said Assistant Coach Kyle Bossier.

The game got off to quick start when UCSC jumped to 5-0 lead within the first two minutes of the game. It remained competitive throughout, as the match was tied 24-24 with 6:13 remaining on the clock. It was then that the Slugs made a 5-0 scoring run but to avail, as Menlo fought back for 31-31 tie at the half. Tyler Berkness provided a spark off the bench, leading the Slugs at the half with 10 points, included 2-2 from the three-point range. The first half was even in most statistical categories as both teams shot right under 44% from the field—hence that the game was tied at the half.

The second quarter was no different from the first, as both teams came out with great energy. It came down to the wire, after Menlo gained 46-42 lead with 10:55 reaming in the second quarter. Just when things seemed to be spiraling downward, the veterans of the Slugs made their presence felt. Arwine Jr hit a big three to take back a 51-50 lead that provided momentum for the Slugs—it was big shot that was much needed for their confidence. In the dawn of “crunch time,” Menlo College hit a clutch shot to give them a 59-57 lead with 00:45 ticks on the clock remaining. It was nail-biting moment for the Slugs until the end. Fittingly, it was Townsend who was the hero for the Slugs being one of the few seniors on the team. Not only did he tie things up at 59-59 apiece, but he also came up with three-pointer to give the Slugs a 62-59 lead with 0.7 seconds remaining—sending Kaiser Permanente Area in a frenzy. It was the biggest bucket of the game for sure, as the Slugs were able to seal the deal and obtain a 62-59 victory over Menlo. Townsend also finished with a game high 17 points in addition to his five rebounds. He went 7-14 from the field, including 3-5 from three-point range. The three-pointer was the decisive factor because both teams rounded up this game even in most of the stats.

UCSC’s bench was at it again, outscoring their opponents in nine of their last ten games—a big key to this team’s offense. In spite of the bench’s great performance, it was evident that the guidance of the seniors on this team made a difference for a squad comprised of majority underclassmen. Their experience flourished as the game progressed, especially with less than five minutes remaining.

“Our seniors really carried us down the stretch. Marshall it a big 3 with about four minutes to go and of course, James hit the big one. It was a great moment for our seniors, who have led us all year,” added Bossier.

The win over Menlo brings the Slugs to a 10-11 record, while still having four games left in the schedule. Their next contest will come against UC Merced, in what will be their final home game of the season—senior night for players on the team on February 10th.  This victory will certainly give the Slugs some additional adrenalin to win their next game, not only to bid farewell to their seniors on a positive note, but a chance to finally pull their record even at .500. They have the opportunity to wrap the season up with a winning record.

By Javier Gutierrez                         *All stats acquired from Goslugs.com