Santa Cruz Loses Lead, Rallies in Final Minute to Defeat WU, 93-90

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

REDLANDS, CALIF. -- The University of California-Santa Cruz built a 10-point halftime lead, but had to rally in the final minute to defeat Willamette University, 93-90, on Friday, Dec. 4, in the second round of the Lee Fulmer Tournament, hosted by the University of Redlands. The Banana Slugs moved to 2-5 on the season, while Willamette fell to 1-5.

Santa Cruz held a 54-44 lead at the break, but Willamette recovered in the second half. The Bearcats held a 90-86 lead after Cameron Mitchell (Sr., Post, Portland, OR/Grant HS/U. of Redlands) scored with 55 seconds left. The Banana Slugs tallied the game's final seven points to slip past the Bearcats for the win.

Darrin Lew topped UC-Santa Cruz with 19 points. Ryan Matsuoka and Niel Brennen each contributed 11 points, while Alex Abarca scored 10. The Banana Slugs achieved a 44-41 rebounding margin.

Mitchell led all players with 26 points and 11 rebounds. He was 10 of 15 from the field. He also earned two blocked shots, two steals and one assist.

Taylor Mounts (So., Post, Kailua, HI/Iolani School) contributed 21 points and six rebounds for the Bearcats. He went 9 for 9 at the free throw line. Terrell Malley (Fr., G, Portland, OR/Roosevelt HS) also reached double figures with 11 points.

Each team earned 17 assists. For WU, Robbie Kunke (Jr., Wing, Clackamas, OR/Clackamas HS) supplied seven, while Marcus Holmes (Jr., G, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) added five. Lew led the way for UCSC with seven assists and Kevin Konopelski earned four.

Willamette opened the second period with an 11-4 run to cut the lead to 58-55 with 17:36 left in the game. WU also trailed by just three points, 62-59, following a layup by Mounts at the 15:49 mark.

The Banana Slugs held Willamette off a bit longer, as UCSC went on a 6-0 run to increase the lead to nine points. UCSC also held a nine-point advantage at 73-64 with 10:40 to go.

Willamette went on an 11-2 run to force a 75-75 tie with 7:21 on the clock. Mounts completed the run by hitting a total of four free throws in two separate trips to the foul line. The score was tied two more times before Santa Cruz moved out to an 84-79 lead with 4:10 remaining.

A 6-0 run by the Bearcats gave Willamette its first lead of the second half, 85-84, when Kunke hit two free throws with 3:03 left. Two free throws by Brennen gave UCSC an 86-85 edge, but Holmes connected on a 3-pointer with 1:48 on the clock, as the Bearcats took an 88-86 advantage.

An offensive foul by Lew returned the ball to Willamette and Mitchell tacked on a jumper with 55 seconds to go. Matsuoka reduced the lead to one point with a 3-pointer at the 39-second mark.

Eight seconds later, the Banana Slugs forced a turnover and a foul. Abarca made both charity shots, as UCSC took a 91-90 lead. Holmes missed a 3-point attempt for WU with 18 seconds left, but Mitchell rebounded the ball.

Konopelski stole the ball four seconds later and Lew was fouled with 11 seconds remaining. He hit both free throws, giving Santa Cruz a 93-90 lead.

Holmes launched a potential game-tying 3-pointer for the 'Cats with three seconds left, but the shot missed. Brennen rebounded to secure the win.

WU led 15-8 in the first half, following a 3-pointer by Bubba Lemon (Jr., Wing, McMinnville, OR/Tualatin HS/Linfield College) at the 15:43 mark. Santa Cruz fought back to lead 20-16 with 13:08 on the clock. The score was tied 38-38, before the Banana Slugs closed the half with a 16-6 run in the final 4:11.

For the game, UC-Santa Cruz connected on 43.8% of its shots (32 of 73) and made 8 of 16 three-pointers. The Banana Slugs converted 21 of 24 free throws (87.5%), including 13 of 16 in the second half.

WU was able to rally from its 10-point halftime deficit by holding UCSC to 37.5% shooting (12 of 32) in the second half. The Bearcats shot 43.3% in the second half (13 of 30) and finished at 41.8% (28 of 67) during the game.

Willamette will conclude the three-day tournament with a game at 1:30 p.m. (PST) on Saturday, Dec. 5. The Bearcats will play West Coast Baptist College, which lost to Menlo College, 83-61, on Friday.

Univ. of California-Santa Cruz 93
Willamette University 90
(Lee Fulmer Tournament at University of Redlands)
Cameron Mitchell scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead all players in both categories.

Cameron Mitchell scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead all players in both categories.