Tigers Ride Strong Defense To 61-51 Win Over Cal Poly

Markus Duran - photo by Gary Jones
Markus Duran - photo by Gary Jones

Stockton, Calif. -- The Pacific Tigers won their second straight league game by defeating the Cal Poly Mustangs 61-51 on Thursday, January 26 at Alex G. Spanos Center. With the win, Pacific improved to 7-12, 3-4 in Big West Conference play, while Cal Poly dropped to 12-9, 3-5 in league play. 

The Mustangs took an early 5-4 lead, but Pacific countered with a 9-0 run with a pair of three-pointers and a dunk by sophomore Khalil Kelley to take a 13-5 lead with 13:38 remaining in the half. The Tigers pushed the lead to 18-7 at the 7:09 mark of the first half, after playing stingy defense that allowed just one basket to Cal Poly over a 10 minute span. After exchanging buckets to make the score 22-12, Cal Poly scored five of the next seven points, cutting the Tiger lead to seven (24-17) with 1:06 left in the half. Junior Markus Duran fired a three-pointer with 0:09 on the clock to send Pacific into break with a 27-17 lead.

Pacific held its 10 point lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Mustangs put together an 11-2 run featuring nine points from David Hanson to make it 33-32 with 13:40 to play in the game. The Tigers answered on the very important ensuing possession, as Duran made a buzzer-beating trey to give the Tigers a 36-32 advantage. Duran's trey initiated a 12-3 run for Pacific that gave the Tigers a 45-35 lead with 9:47 left on the clock. Pacific held a 53-43 with 3:57 to go, but the Mustangs again cut into the lead with six straight points to make it 53-49 with 1:46 to play in the game. Junior Lorenzo McCloud answered with a pair of free throws, but was followed by a Will Taylor layup on the other end for a 55-51 Tiger lead with 1:11 to play. Pacific scored the final six points, highlighted by a dunk from Kelley and the Tigers cruised to the win.

Duran led the Tigers with 14 points, while Kelley added 13 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Ross Rivera scored 11 points, all from the free throw line, and had nine rebounds to lead Pacific. Pacific shot 38.1 percent from the field and held the Mustangs to 29.7 percent overall. The Tigers played tough perimeter defense, as Cal Poly hit just three of 29 three-point attempts (10.3 percent).

The Tigers are back in action on Saturday, January 28 at Alex G. Spanos Center. Tip-off is at 5:00 p.m. for a nationally televised game on Comcast Sports California.