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Graham Explodes for 26 as 'Roos Roll

Photo courtesy Sam Houston State
Photo courtesy Sam Houston State

SHERMAN, Texas – Kevin Graham made his senior day a memorable one, hitting 7-of-8 threes and finishing with 26 points to lead Austin College to a 68-58 victory over UC Santa Cruz on Sunday afternoon in Hughey Gym. The 'Roos end the season with an overall record of 8-17 on the year.

Austin College came out to a hot start and never looked back, scoring the game's first 13 points, including two three pointers from Graham and five early points from Alvin Michael, and UC Santa Cruz was held scoreless until a pair of free throws from Jared Ponce made it 13-2 at the 14:32 mark. It wasn't until the 12:53 mark that the Banana Slugs were able to get a field goal, with Ponce hitting a jumper to cut it to a 15-5 Austin College lead.

Graham and Aaron Anwary buried three pointers Graham hit a driving layup to push it to a 27-9 game, and after four straight from the Slugs cut the deficit to 14 with 6:42 left, two more triples from Graham helped push the lead to 37-17 and Eghosa Igbinosa tallied for the 'Roos to send Austin College into halftime leading 39-20. Austin College hit 64% from the field in the first half, with Graham scoring 17.

Austin College started right where they left off in the second half, with Roman Manikowski scoring inside and Harry Hampden-Smith burying a three to push it to a 44-23 game. Graham knocked down another three to extend it to a 49-25 game, and the senior from Frisco would hit yet another trey and add two free throws to make it a 60-37 game with 8:41 left to play.

The Slugs would use a 9-0 run to trim it to a 60-46 game with 5:41 remaining, and a Tyler Berkness three cut it to a 62-52 game with three minutes showing on the clock. Santa Cruz got the margin into single digits for the first time since the opening minutes of the game when James Townsend hit a three with 1:58 to play to make it 64-55, but three points from Anwary and another free throw from Graham put the game away for Austin College.

The 'Roos celebrated senior day in style, with 59 of the team's 68 points coming from its seniors, Graham, Michael, Anwary, Hampden-Smith, and Manikowski. Graham finished the game hitting 8-of-14 shots to get his career high of 26 points, adding four assists and three rebounds. Michael finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocks as the only other 'Roo to reach double figures.

Townsend and Ponce each had 19 and Townsend added 11 rebounds to lead Santa Cruz, and Tre Weston added 12 points and seven boards, while Matthew Ponce dished out a game-high nine assists.

Austin College athletic teams participate as a member of the NCAA Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.