THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Cal Lutheran flexed its defensive muscle Sunday afternoon, holding UC Santa Cruz to just 49 points one day after the Banana Slugs poured 104 against La Verne. However, UCSC forced 32 Regal turnovers, keeping the game close until the end as CLU won 56-49. With the win, CLU is now just win one away from matching last season’s win total.
Cal Lutheran got off to solid start, racing out to 7-0 lead. Six minutes later, UC Santa Cruz would score on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to four at 15-11. However, on the Slugs' next possession, Alex Nelson stole the ball at half court and raced down the court to convert a lay-up despite two UC Santa Cruz defenders in her face.
In the closing stages of the first half, Cal Lutheran pushed its lead to 10 when Jazmyne Porter drove down the baseline before dishing off to Erica Whitley in the corner where the senior sank a three-pointer to put CLU up 27-17.
Slugs guard Jean Dulay’s two free-throws on UC Santa Cruz’s following possession would cap the first half scoring and the teams headed into half with CLU up 27-19.
The beginning of the second half saw UC Santa Cruz cut the lead to four after Ryane Ortiz hit a deep three-pointer. CLU responded with Nelson executing a perfect dribble-drive and finding an open Starla Wright for an easy two points.
Three minutes later, Cal Lutheran would go up by nine after a lay-up from Rachel Heagy and on the following possession, Keeley Anderson would sink a three-pointer giving CLU a 12 point lead at 35-23 with 15:21 to play.
However, turnovers would plague CLU from fully pulling away from the Banana Slugs. UC Santa Cruz benefited from 17 second half turnovers by the Regals and dwindled the lead down to four at 35-31 with 12:56 left to play after two straight three-pointers from Dulay.
Cal Lutheran’s leaders would respond however as the Regals next eight points would come from seniors. Whitley would score a fast break lay-up stopping the UC Santa Cruz run and Channing Fleischmann would hit a three to put CLU up 40-31 with 8:52 to play.
Wright would carry the Regals down the stretch, scoring six of her game high 18 points in the final five minutes. Cal Lutheran would finally put the game away when Fleischmann sunk a pair of free-throws, extending the Regal lead to 54-46.
Cal Lutheran was led offensively by Wright, who earned her sixth double-double of the year after netting 18 points and collecting 11 rebounds. Whitley nearly pulled off a triple-double with seven points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
UC Santa Cruz was led by Ortiz’s 17 points. Sarah Mackey, who scored 31 points Saturday night against La Verne, sat out with an injury.
With the win, CLU improves to 17-3 overall and remains at 9-2 in the SCIAC. UC Santa Cruz drops to 13-8 overall.
CLU will be back in action next Thursday, Jan. 31, when they host the Poets of Whittier. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.