With only seconds remaining on the clock, the Slugs held their breath as the Chapman team approached the free throw line with a chance to tie the score. As the ball hit the rim and ricocheted away from the basket, the Slugs clinched the win, prevailing in a low-scoring battle.
On Jan. 20, the UCSC men’s basketball team edged out a win in a 44-43 nail-biter against rival Chapman University, supported by a packed crowd. The win improved the Slugs’ record to nine wins and nine losses for the year, with a 4-4 record versus Division III teams.
Senior UCSC guard Sam Allen said the key to the win was a group effort, with everyone fighting for their teammates.
“This was a great team win,” Allen said. “Everyone did their part. There was no selfishness, there were no egos. We were playing as a team.”
Head coach Gordon Johnson said he was pleased with the win.
“Overall, we did a great job,” Johnson said. “I’m elated right now. This is a great win. Chapman is our nemesis, so it feels good to come away with a victory.”
This is a significant upset, as Chapman finished last year at No. 4 in the west region. The Slugs ended Chapman’s six-game winning streak on Friday. Chapman University had not lost since Dec. 10.
Though the team won, Coach Johnson still sees room for improvement.
“There are still things we need to get much better at, particularly our shooting,” he said.
Senior forward Brent Jacobs led the team with 11 points total, shooting only four for 11 from the field. Together, the two teams made only 31 shots of 89 attempts.
The Slugs are looking to qualify for the NCAA Division III National Championships, which begins on March 1. The tournament culminates in the Final Four held in Virginia, from March 16-17.
Senior guard Nathan Mohri said confidence will be a key factor in the team’s success.
“We have to go through the rest of the season believing we can win every game,” he said.
Senior guard Sam Allen said the Slugs need to carry the momentum of their win over Chapman into their final seven games of the season.
“From here on, we need to build on this win to push us through the year,” he said. “We need to put together a winning streak to have a shot at getting into Nationals.”
The Slugs will play Pacifica College on Jan. 27 at 6 p.m., and UC Merced at home on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.