THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Cal Lutheran Regals took down the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs in a Saturday afternoon nail biter for their first win of the 2018-19 season. Though Cal Lutheran led by as a much as 12 points in the fourth quarter, a late surge by the Banana Slugs brought the score to within one possession, before a crucial steal by the Regals with two seconds remaining sealed in the 78-75 victory.
The win went beyond just a season record as the team took the court for warm-ups in "Enough" black t-shirts donated by the Los Angeles Clippers with the names of the 12 Borderline victims printed on the back. In addition, students who donated canned goods for families affected by the Woosley fire received tickets to Monday night's NFL game courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams.
Overall, the game featured eight lead changes, but Cal Lutheran allowed UC Santa Cruz no more than a two-point advantage the entire match. While the Regals shot 43.3 percent on the night, the defense also forced 20 turnovers and score 21 points off those turnovers.
The bench also had a big night for the team, scoring 45 of the team's 75 points. Freshman Cameron Mallory led the reserves with 19 points, shooting 5-9 in field goals, 2-3 from three-point range and 7-8 at the free throw line. Also with big numbers off the bench, sophomore Kailee Yan picked up 12 points of her own, matching Mallory 2-3 from behind the arc.
For the second consecutive game, junior Natalie Ruhl recorded a double-digit scoring night with 13 points. The guard made six of 11 field goal attempts and sunk the final and vital free throw with two seconds remaining in regulation to keep UC Santa Cruz from taking the win away on a last second shot.
Ruhl and sophomore Jade Jordan got the game going for the offense with back to back layups to open the game up 4-0. A three point shot from the Slugs' Emily Mitchell followed by a layup from Katilin Stephenson pushed the score to 5-4 for UCSC, but sophomore Jozie Tangeman responded with a three-pointer to regain the Regals' lead 7-4.
Cal Lutheran held on to that lead for nearly remainder of the first half, allowing UC Santa Cruz to sneak a one-point lead 37-36 with 2:16 left in the first half, before a layup by freshman Haley Tyrell gave the Regals back the lead heading into the break.
With just the three-point lead 39-42, however, entering the second half, the Regals got going offensively. They racked up 22 points in the third quarter, shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, and opened and closed the period with two 10-5 scoring runs. The late surge came courtesy of Yan who nailed back to back treys to bust the score open to 64-55 with 35 seconds left in the quarter.
Cal Lutheran looked comfortable heading into the final ten minutes of the game, but a 14-point unanswered scoring run from UC Santa Cruz quickly jumped them out to a 70-68 lead with 5:17 left on the clock.
Cal Lutheran responded with a layup from senior Rylie Wada sandwiched between free throws from Mallory and Jordan to take back the lead 72-70 now with 3:55 remaining. The score held gridlocked until a fouls on Jordan and Mallory sent UCSC's Stephenson to the line on consecutive possessions. Thankfully for the Regals, Stephenson made only two of her four attempts to bring the game to its only tie of the night 72-72 with 2:13 left.
Stephenson redeemed herself, however, on the next play, sinking a jump shot with 1:38 on the clock to give the Slugs the 74-72 lead. But without missing a beat, Mallory quickly rebutted with a deep three to give the Regals back the one-point lead, now with 1:26 remaining.
Under pressure, neither team could put points up on the board heading into the final 10 seconds of the game, before a foul by UCSC's Kaylee Murphy sent Yan to the free throw line. Uncharacteristically, though, Yan missed both attempts, but was saved by an offensive board from Mallory.
Mallory was then quickly fouled by the Slugs' CJ Catina to stop the clock with eight seconds left and sank both free throws to push the Regals lead out to 77-74. Holding off a field goal attempt, Mallory returned the favor with a foul to send Savannah Henson to the line. She made just one of two attempts, but pulled UC Santa Cruz to within two points, 77-75.
With the tie on the line, UCSC's Emily Mitchell snagged the offensive rebound off the missed second free throw, but missed the jumper. Senior Grace Derksen pulled in the important defensive rebound before sending the ball out to Wada who mishandled the ball and turned possession over to UC Santa Cruz with two seconds on the clock.
The Banana Slugs immediately called a 30-second timeout. With nerves high inside Gilbert Arena, UCSC inbounded the ball, but Ruhl came up with the huge turnover before swiftly getting fouled. She went 1-2 at the line, but did enough to give the Regals the 78-75 lead with one second and change left on the clock. Though the Banana Slugs grabbed the defensive rebound, they couldn't manage to get a last second shot off and sent Cal Lutheran off with the win.
The victory moves the Regals to 1-1 on the season. The team now turns to game three of their four-game opening home stretch against Master's College on Monday, November 19, at 6:30 p.m.
Box Score: CLU 78, UCSC 75
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director