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