Sophomore Tyler Berkness "Monster" explodes for 26 points and 9 rebounds

SANTA CRUZ, CA—The UCSC Slug’s look to wrap the year up with a win as they took on University of Redlands to finish up the Purple & Gold Poet Classic. They hope to avert back-to-back losses after being defeated by Whittier College to begin the tournament. This marks the third game in a row that Coach DuBois has kept his starting line-up of F-Creighton, F-Townsend, G-J. Ponce, G-Arwine Jr. and G-Marlow. The Slugs turned things around after a slow start to yesterday’s game. They led 29-20 at half and went on to earn a 68-57 victory on the road. UCSC is 2-1 with these starters on the court.

The Slugs kept things in perspective as the game got off to a 12-9 start in favor of UC Santa Cruz with 12:48 reaming in the first half.  A key factor was the Slugs ability to force turnovers, as they enforced 10. Most importantly, the Slugs ended the first quarter on a 7-0 run—giving them a 29-20 led at the end of the first quarter. Jared Ponce and Tyler Berkness lead the team at the half with 7 points each. Ponce also had a team high 7 rebounds and 3 steals. UCSC had a total of 7 different players score. It was a tightly contest first half as both teams were pretty evenly matched in the other statistical categories.

The Slugs got off to a shaky start to begin the second half. Redlands trimmed the lead to 6 with a 35-29 score. However, the Slugs never looked back as they went on a12-2 run. A big part was due to Berkness eruption as he had 19 points in the second quarter that included 5 triples. He went 7-9 from the field for the quarter coming off the bench. The Slugs shot the ball efficiently as they went 11-23, roughly 48%. They also played good defense as Redlands shot just 27.8% from the filed. Berkness finished with a game high 26 points, the included six triples. He also shared a team high of 9 rebounds with Ponce.

A key to the Slugs victory was their ability to score off turnovers; they had 20 points compared to Redlands 9. The bench also provided some aid as they supplied 36 points compared to 21. A huge part was due Berkness hot shooting as he was the hero of today’s game. He also replaces the production of Tre Weston who missed his second game in a row. It goes to show the depth and versatility of this team as Berkness had played sporadically throughout the season.

The Banana Slugs secure a win to end 2014, bringing their record 6-10. Their next game will be on January 7 at home as they look to begin 2015 with another victory and attempt to get over .500 for the season. This victory is a positive way to end the year for the Slugs after undergoing a six game losing streak earlier this year. They have now won 4 of their last 6 games. They hope to continue their winning ways in 2015 after ending this year in a positive note.

By Javier Gutierrez (UC Santa Cruz 2014)