Slugs fall to NAIA power Westmont College 

SANTA CRUZ, CA—UCSC Men’s basketball team looked for its first three-game winning streak of the season as they took on Westmount College Thursday evening (01/08/15). The Slugs are coming off a 65-60 victory over Pacific Union College to begin the New Year and looked to continue their momentum. They hope to achieve their first winning season in several years. Coach DuBois decided to go with the line-up of F-Creighton, F-Townsend, G-J. Ponce, G-Arwine Jr and G-Marlow for a 5th game in a row. Santa Cruz has a record of 3-1 with these starters entering today’s game.  Moreover, the Slugs found themselves in early trouble as they trailed 36-16 at the half. Despite playing a better second quarter, the early deficit proved to be substantial for Santa Cruz as they lose in a 66-50 rout.

The Slugs got off to one of their worst starts of the season. Westmount jumped to a 27-9 lead with nearly four minutes remaining in the first quarter; an epoch that also included 7 turnovers by UCSC. The Slugs had difficulties shooting the ball, they went 4 of 17 (23.5%) from the field collectively. James Townsend had a team high 5 points and 4 rebounds at the half. Meanwhile, Westmount had an efficient offense to begin the game. They shoot 14-29 (48.3%) from the field and showed unselfish ball moment by generating eight assist in comparison to Santa Cruz’s two.  Westmount was also able to manipulate the glass by out-rebounding Santa Cruz 13-19 in the first quarter. Their great energy to begin the game was certainly a characteristic that contributed to their lead at half.

The Slugs got off to a much more effective start in the second quarter. They were able to limit their turnovers but were still grieving from the early deficit. Despite being able to outscore Westmount 34-30 in the second half, UCSC endeared an uphill battle all game long. They were beaten in nearly every category; Westmount had 40 rebounds and 16 assist compared to UCSC’s 28 boards and 11 dimes, respectfully. They also had more second chance points, scoring 12 to the Banana Slug’s 3. Santa Cruz also struggled from the field as they made 15 shots on 48 attempts, a 31.2 shooting percentage—one of their lowest of the season. Guard Corey Cilia finished with a team high 12 points for the game. The Slugs showing woes continued to deplete any attempt for a comeback, but it was ultimately the 27-9 start for Westmount that dug the Slugs grave. It proved to be too much to overcome as they suffered a 66-50 defeat. Despite the lost, one of the continuing highlights for UCSC has been their bench production over the past few games. They had 37 points in this game and have outscored their opponents bench in 6 of their last 7 games; an impressive performance from a young group.

The lost brings the Slugs record to 7-11 for the season with seven games remaining in the schedule. Their next game comes against California Maritime Academy, as they hit the road for Saturday’s game (01.10.15). They hope to add a win and head into their final home stretch of three straight games with some excitement.

By Javier Gutierrez (UC Santa Cruz, 2015)                  

*All stats acquired from Goslugs.com