Slugs show off a balanced attack against Pacific Union

SANTA CRUZ, CA—The UCSC Men’s basketball team looks to start the New Year with a victory as they faced Pacific Union College to begin 2015, while also looking to protect home court at the Kaiser Permanente Arena. Having won four of their last six games, the Slugs hope to continue their winning tradition as they concluded 2014 with a victory over the University of Redlands in the Purple & Gold Poet Classic. Coach DuBois seems to have found some consistency in his start line-up. Electing to go with F-Creighton, F-Townsend, G-J. Ponce, G-Arwine Jr and G-Marlow for the 4th game in a row. For the most part, it was a closely contested contest as UCSC took a 30-23 lead into halftime. After a valiant effort to mount a comeback, the Slugs were able to hang on and earn a 65-60 victory over Pacific Union. This victory brings the Slugs overall record to 7-10 for the season.

The Slugs got off to an explosive start; they forced six turnovers and lead 19-4 with 11:44 remaining in the first quarter. Jared Ponce led Santa Cruz with 9 points at half, which included 2 triples. Kyle Creighton lead the team with six rebounds as both players had roughly sixteen minutes of production.  A key factor that was responsible for UCSC’s lead was their second unit. Their bench provided 14 points opposed to Pacific Union’s 6, which proved to be the difference in a 30-23 lead at the half. The Slugs also played great defense, holding the Pioneers to 11-37 shooting (roughly 30% from the field) while shooting 9-22 themselves (roughly 41% from the field).

The second half was eventful to say the least. Pacific Union was able to fight back and trim the lead to 1, as they trailed 32-31 with 15:59 remaining. UCSC fought back and responded with a 10-0 run themselves with 13:14 left in the second quarter. However, Pacific Union was able was able to respond and took a 54-52 lead with 4:43 remaining in the clock. Instead of panicking, the Slugs showed the composure and dueled out the final minutes of the match. After going back and forth, the game came down to the free-throw line in which UCSC excelled. They were able to knock down 8 of their 10 free-throws in the final minute of the game. They were clutch; it was enough to earn the Slugs a 65-60 win to begin 2015. Ponce finished with a team high 15 points, going 9 of 12 from the charity stripe. In addition, a significant factor to take into account for the victory was UCSC bench production. They scored 29 points compared to Pacific Unions 13, which proved to be instrumental in the final score of the game. It helps when the second unit can come in and provide some production which proved to be true in this game.

The Banana Slugs currently own a record of 7-10, as they now sit just three games under .500 for the season. The Slugs have totaled their wins from last season and look to improve with 8 games remaining in the schedule. They take on Westmont on January 8th, as they look to inch closer to a winning record. This is a positive way to begin the year for the Slugs, as they have now won 5 of their last 7 games.

By Javier Gutierrez (UC Santa Cruz 2015)