THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - Meeting on the hardwood for the second time in a week, the Cal Lutheran men's basketball team hosted UC Santa Cruz at the Gilbert Arena today after visiting the Banana Slugs in Northern California on Nov. 29. Although the location was different, the result was the same as the Kingsmen earned a 73-64 victory.
CLU broke an early 4-4 tie with a 6-0 run capped off by an and-one from Dan Wade. The advantage grew to 18-8 and as much as 13 with a double figure gap for much of the opening half. A late surge from the Slugs pulled the teams within five, at 39-34, going into the break. A last-second steal by Adam Marlow for a near halftime buzzer beater from Sam Gabbard gave UCSC the momentum going into the intermission. Both teams shot over 50 percent in the opening half.
Out of the locker rooms, UC Santa Cruz chipped away and got within a point at 44-43, but Cal Lutheran never relinquished its lead and though the Slugs made noise at multiple points throughout the 20 minutes, the Violet and Gold held on for the win.
While Adrian Francis led all players with 24, going 7-for-8 at the charity stripe, Connor McGuire had a career night with four three-pointers en route to 20 total points while pacing all player with 12 rebounds, including four at the offensive end. Wade and Justin Kam also finished in double figures with 13 and 10 points apiece, respectively, adding seven combined assists. Kam was a defensive menace as well, earning a game-high four steals while Francis finished with a game-best six assists. Rounding out the scoring was Jeremy Sulker-Hall with six points.
Despite the loss, UC Santa Cruz outshot the home team 52.9 percent to 45.8 percent. CLU was tougher on the glass with 34 rebounds, 11 offensive, and limited UCSC to 25 with just five at the visiting end of the court. The Kingsmen were solid at the free-throw line, missing just one attempt (10-for-11), to shoot 90.9 percent as a team and the Banana Slugs struggled, going 4-for-10 as a unit.
UC Santa Cruz (1-7) was led by Will Crain with 14 points and a pair of blocks and Jared Ponce with 10 points and six rebounds.
Cal Lutheran (2-1) will welcome Bethesda on Wednesday, Dec. 9 for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at the Gilbert Arena in non-conference action.