SANTA CRUZ (12-21) –The Banana Slugs started the UCSC Holiday Classic as they took on Denison University at Kaiser Permanente Arena. The Big Red outscored the Banana Slugs by ten in the second half enroute to a 79-71 win.
The Big Red started the game on a 17-6 run capped by a pair of Ben Stern free throws with 12:44 left in the half. The Banana Slugs would then go on a 9-2 run, capped by Vinay Narayanam'a three-pointer, to trim the Big Red lead to 19-15. The Banana Slugs would take the lead at 33-32 on a Simon Mueller-Landsvik layup with forty-one seconds left in the half. After Stern gave Denison the lead back with a layup with twenty-seconds left, Patrick Ramos was fouled on a buzzer-beater attempt with no time remaining. Ramos made all three free throws and the Banana Slugs led 36-34 at halftime.
In the second half, the Banana Slugs gained their largest lead of the ballgame at six, at 40-34, after a pair of Avri Finch free throws with 19:25 left. The Big Red would work their way back into the ballgame and took the lead for good at 48-47 with 13:55 left. The Big Red would gain their largest lead at 69-56 with 4:22 left. The Banana Slugs would come as close as five on two occasions, but the Big Red held on in the dying seconds to take the win.
Haakon Ullrich had sixteen points to lead the Banana Slugs. Finch had thirteen and Ramos had twelve. Conor Fenton had a game=high seventeen for the Big Red. The Banana Slugs shot 41.8% (23-55) from the field, 47.1% (8-17) from the three-point line and were 63% (17-27) from the free throw line. Both teams recorded thirty-six rebounds while the Big Red had fourteen more points in the paint (38-24) than did the Banana Slugs. The Big Red shot 50% (29-58) from the field, 38.1% (8-21) from the three-point line and were 72.2% (13-18) from the free throw line. Both teams turned the ball over twelve times.with the Banana Slugs scoring nine points off the turnovers while the Big Red scored eight points.
The next game for the Banana Slugs will be Sunday as they take on Chapman University at Kaiser Permanente Arena. Tipoff is set for 3 pm.