Poets hold off UCSC 55-53

Murphy gets second double-double of the month against Whittier
Murphy gets second double-double of the month against Whittier
WHITTIER, CA (11-22) Kaylee Murphy had her second double-double of the season and Ashley Kowack had 11 points, but the Whittier Poets had just enough to survive in a wild 55-53 win over UC Santa Cruz.
UCSC goes to 1-4 on the season with their second loss to the Poets (2-2) in two weeks.
 
The game was a huge difference from the previous meeting in Santa Cruz where Whittier used a big third quarter surge to take the game. The rematch had 10 lead changes, five of which came in the last 10:01 of the game.
After being down seven at halftime and trailing by as much as 11 with 08:20 left in the third, the Banana Slugs ran off a 14-3 run to tie it at 40-all with 2:50 left, the last five points coming courtesy of steals by Maddy Miller and Aubrey Wagner. Teani White gave Whittier a 43-42 lead from the free-throw line before Murphy's buzzer-beater gave UCSC a 44-43 lead as the quarter ended.
That set up a thrilling fourth quarter. CJ Catina got a steal and was fouled with 5:11 left, converting both free-throws for a 50-47 lead. However, White answered by draining a three for the Poets, tying the game at 50-all. The Banana Slugs couldn't respond with a three of their own, and the Poets scored a layup on the next possession to retake the lead at 52-50 with 4:10 left. Another 1-2 trip at the line for UCSC cut the deficit to one, and both teams came up empty on their next possessions. Then, freshman Zion Gabriel got a steal and was fouled, hitting both her free-throws for a 53-52 UCSC lead with two minutes left.
 
Whittier then hit a shot and went 1-4 from the foul line for a 55-53 lead, but after securing a defensive rebound, had a shot clock violation that gave the visiting Slugs the ball with nine seconds left. However, the Poets had a block and then a steal in the final seconds to escape with the win.
 
Murphy finished with team-highs of 12 points and 18 rebounds along with an assist and a block. The Banana Slugs were 18-58 (31%) from the field and 13-20 (65%) from the free-throw line. Whittier was 21-51 (41.2%) on field goals and 10-20 (50%) from the line. Cali Cubel led the Poets with 26 points while White finished with 16.
 
UCSC finishes the roadtrip Saturday afternoon at Caltech.