The Whitworth Pirates play host to the school frequently credited with having the best nickname in college sports when they take on the University of California Santa Cruz Banana Slugs tonight at 8 in the Fieldhouse.
The Banana Slugs (a yellow, shell-less mollusk found in redwood forests and a distant cousin to the Evergreen College Geoduck) are the final tune-up before Whitworth opens Northwest Conference play next weekend with back-to-back home games against Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound.
UCSC has two wins in six games under first-year head coach Ron DuBois, a native of Lodi, Calif., who was an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA. In their last game, the Banana Slugs fell 87-65 at Whitman.
The 15th-ranked Pirates are coming off a win over the Orediggers of Montana Tech on Wednesday. Starting freshman guard George Valle, from Bellevue’s Sammamish High, was impressive in Butte, filling in for senior Wade Gebbers in the Whitworth backcourt and leading all scorers with 23 points – equaling Gebbers’ season-high, single-game total.
Junior Dustin McConnell shifted to point guard with Gebbers out and finished with 15 points and seven assists. Through three games, McConnell and Valle share the team lead in scoring with 43 points each.