LOS ANGELES — The Occidental men's basketball team weathered a storm of first-half 3-point shooting and rallied in the second half for a solid 72-65 win over UC Santa Cruz at Rush Gym on Thursday.
It's one of two remaining non-conference games that Oxy plays before returning to SCIAC play.
Austin DeWitz looked like the best Division III defender in the country, blocking six shots to go along with 20 points on 8 for 15 shooting and seven rebounds in all 40 minutes played. He matched up with UC Santa Cruz leading scorer Sam Gabbard, holding him to just 2 for 13 shooting and four points. Gabbard, a strong and crafty low post player, had been averaging a team-best 18 points per game on the season.
Ryan Kaneshiro, Oxy's sophomore point guard, played outstanding on ball defense, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out eight assists. His one field goal came on a crucial possession late in the game and he made two free throws in the last minute on a one and one to make it a two-possession game.
The Tigers got big minutes from first year guard Jacob Adler, who scored six points on 3 for 4 shooting, giving Oxy a spark of energy in the second half.
Oxy weathered seven first-half 3-pointers from the Slugs, going into the locker room down just 41-39 despite being down by double figures early in the game.
In the second half, Oxy played much better defense, holding the Slugs to just 24 points and 24 percent shooting.
Both teams handled the ball well. UC Santa Cruz had just eight turnovers and the Tigers had five.
Season Impact: Oxy snaps a two-game losing streak, improving to 7-2.
UC Santa Cruz falls to 8-5 and 5-4 against the SCIAC this season with losses to Oxy, Caltech, Redlands and Cal Lutheran, and wins over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer, Caltech, Chapman and Whittier.
Next Game: Oxy is back in action against UC Merced at Rush Gym on Dec. 30 at 4 p.m.
The Tigers resume SCIAC play at Whittier on Jan. 6.Follow Oxy Athletics on Twitter Sign Up for Newsletters Watch on Youtube Follow us on Instagram