By JJ Yang
From the opening tip, when forward Jarrod Heredia accidentally slapped the ball out of bounds, it was clear that the game was not going to go in favor of the Slugs.
The UC Santa Cruz men’s basketball team never recovered from an early 6-0 deficit and got blown out by San Diego Christian College 84-52 Monday.
"We couldn’t get good shots," senior wing Murphy Holmes said after the game. "We were taking a lot of off-balance and wild shots."
Since an exhibition loss to the alumni team earlier this month, the Slugs have struggled to adjust to the team’s youth movement. They hoped to shake off a 0-4 start to the season by winning their first home game of the season, but fell short of that goal as their losing streak extended to five.
"The transition defense was awful," coach Gordie Johnson said. "We didn’t play good defense and let them get baskets on the run."
One after another, Christian College’s three-pointers, dunks, and steals poured in as the floundering Slug defense struggled to keep afloat.
"We were outmatched by their size," Johnson said. "We couldn’t guard or out-rebound their big men."
Heredia, last year’s rebounding leader and the Slugs’ primary source of size and strength, fouled out of the game.
Heredia, speaking outside of the locker room after the game, expressed his anguish at the performance of his team.
"We’re undersized, I understand, but that didn’t account for our miscues on the offensive end," Heredia said.
Holmes also expressed his disappointment.
"We’ve struggled to gain our footing early in the season," Holmes said. "In the weeks to come, we really have to come together as a team."
Jon Mercado and Jonathan Morrison, two of the team’s leading scorers, have had to continue sitting out with injuries.
"Those two alone contribute between 35-40 points a game," coach Johnson said. "But the way we were playing tonight we might have actually come up short."
The challenge still lies ahead for this young Slug team. They play the remaining games in November and December on the road. The next home game is not until
"It’s not going to be easy," Johnson said. "But I firmly believe in this team, we just have a few kinks to work out."