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

UCSC 62 MENLO 59

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

 

UCSC 64 BETHESDA 48

Slugs cruise past shorthanded Bethesda

SANTA CRUZ, CA—UCSC’s Men’s basketball team looked to add to their win column as they faced Bethesda Christian University inside the West Field House on campus. The Slugs are coming of a demolishing (75-57) victory over Cal Maritime Academy in their previous game. They hope today will be would no different. Coach DuBois elected to send out his unit of F-Creighton, F-Townsend, G-J. Ponce, G-Arwine Jr and G-Marlow for a 7th game in a row. As the Slugs are 4-2 with that line-up entering today’s contest. The Slugs relied on great defense as they took a (29-33) point lead into the half. It was all smooth sailing from there, as they were able to cruise to a (64-48) victory over Bethesda. Their 16-point margin victory is the second largest of the season with 18 points being set in the previous game. The Slugs have now outscored their opponents (139-105) in their previous two games and have taken four out of five from their foes.

Bethesda led after scoring the first bucket of the game but the Slugs dominated the rest of the way. The Slugs were able to recover the led in the ensuing possession after a three-pointer by Creighton. They never trailed during this game after taking this lead. The first quarter was neck-and-neck as both teams couldn’t seem to create separation. Bethesda’s, Jamelle Holieway Jr, made a layup to end the quarter with a (33-29) score in favor of Santa Cruz. Jared Ponce led the Slugs with nine points at the half.

The Slugs opened the second quarter on a (14-4) scoring run to push their lead 13 with 16:06 reaming on the clock. Fatigue started to increase for Bethesda as they had only five player suit up; a valiant effort from their part. Townsend helped put the game away as he had 13 points in the second half and finished with a game high, 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Slugs played great team defense, holding Bethesda to 40.3% shooting and making their day miserable from the field (25-62). The Slugs also bullied there way on the glass, as they were able to manipulate it by out-rebounding Bethesda 46-26. They had a 22-9 advantage at the half. Their dominating rebounding performance contributed to Santa Cruz 2nd chance points as they scored 18 compared to the challengers five. Another key to the Slugs success was their bench production. They scored 21 points and also helped guide the team to victory.

The Slugs now own a record of 9-11 for the season. Their next match will come against Menlo College on Thursday January 22, 2015. The Slugs offensive surge has come at a pinnacle point of the season, as they have five games remaining with an opportunity to finish above .500 after several losing seasons. The term to best describe the Slugs attitude is that they’re “hungry” to win and pose a winning record.

By Javier Gutierrez                                                               

*All stats acquired from Goslugs.com

 

UCSC 75 CAL MARITIME 57

Slugs win with an offensive explosion over the Keelhaulers

SANTA CRUZ, CA—The Men’s Slug basketball team at UCSC took to the road their 7-11 record, as they squared off against California Maritime Academy in Vallejo California on (01.10.15). The Slugs are coming off a (66-50) loss against Westmount College, breaking their winning streak of two. They look to achieve a new one as Coach DuBois began the game with his—now usual—line-up of forwards, Kyle Creighton, James Townsend, guards Adam Marlow, Jared Ponce, and Marshal Arwine Jr. The Slugs came into this game with a sharp focus. They were able earn a (39-29) lead at the half and eventually cruising to a (75-57) rout of the Keelhaulers. The 18-pioint victory marks the Slugs largest win of the season.

A key to today’s victory was UCSC’s ability to shoot the ball. They shot a scorching (26-47) 55.3% from the field, while holding Cal Maritime to 42.9% (18-42).  Santa Cruz also shot a great 55.6 % (10-18) from the 3-point lane, making it a great shooting night all around. The Slugs had three players outscore the highest scorer—12 points—on the opposing team. Jared Ponce finished with a game high 16 points aiding the Slugs to victory. He went 7-10 from the field, included two triples. Marlow also contributed with 14 points, going 6-7 from the field and 2-2 from the 3-point line to add to the Slugs lead. Their ability to shoot the ball in the early portion of the game made it difficult for Maritime to diminish the lead.

The Slugs bench production was also at it again as they alleviated some pressure in today’s game by being able to produce on the court. The Slugs bench—led by Tyler Berkness—scored 13 of the teams 33 bench points compared to Maritime’s 23. Berkness also shot well from the field, going 4-6 that included two triples. They continue to outscore opponents benches, making it seven of their last eight games. In addition to the Slugs great ball distribution, as they tallied 13 assist to help secure the win. They were able to clog Maritime’s passing lanes, forcing 12 steals and holding them to eight assist. The Slugs were able to cruise to (36-28) point second quarter as they didn’t look back from there.

The Slugs victory brings their record 8-11 for the season. There next game will come against Bethesda University on Saturday (01.17.15) and will be played inside of UCSC’s West Field House. With six games remaining in the schedule, the Slugs have the opportunity to finish above .500 for the season. This victory should provide some spark for the team as they inch closer to the finish line.

By Javier Gutierrez (UC Santa Cruz, 2015)  

*All stats acquired from Goslugs.com