Eugene, Ore. – The Pacific men's basketball team held on for a 73-71 victory over Cal Poly on Saturday, November 30 at Matthew Knight Arena. The Tigers improved to 5-1 with the win, while Cal Poly dropped to 2-4. It was Pacific's second game of the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge.
"I am so proud of how tough the guys were in this game, especially in the final defensive stand," said Head Coach Ron Verlin. "We stepped up and made plays when we needed them. Our free throw shooting really was the difference in the game."
Four points from senior Khalil Kelley was part of an 8-1 run early in the game to give the Tigers an 11-5 lead. The Mustangs struck back to even it at 13-13. Three-pointers from freshman T.J. Wallace and Aaron Short keyed a 12-0 run to give the Tigers a 25-13 lead with 10:01 left in the half. Cal Poly scored the next seven points to cut it back to a five-point game, but Wallace had another three in a 7-1 run to push the Tigers' lead back to 11 (32-21) with 2:34 to play. Pacific led 36-28 at the half, shooting 46.4% from the field.
Early in the second half, the Tigers pushed the lead back to 12 (40-28), after seniors Tony Gill and Sama Taku hit jumpers in the first three minutes. With the Tigers holding a 48-39 lead, the Mustangs went on a 11-1 run which started a stretch of 6-8 from three-point range. It also began a wild final 10 minutes that featured 10 lead changes. Gill and Kelley each hit jumpers to give the Tigers a 64-60 lead with 4:12 to play. Chris Eversley then scored four points in an 8-3 stretch to give the Mustangs the lead back at 68-67. Senior Trevin Harris then hit a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 70-68 lead with 1:43 to play. A three-pointer from Eversley gave the Mustangs a 71-70 lead with :44 seconds left to play. Short then found senior Tony Gill open for a layup and he was fouled. Gill hit the free throw to give Pacific a 73-71 lead with :30 seconds left with the 12th and final lead change of the game. Kyle Odister was off the mark with a pair of three-pointers in the final Cal Poly possession, as the Tigers held on for the win.
The Tigers' edge at the free throw line was a big difference in the game. Pacific hit 23-31 free throws (74.2%), while Cal Poly was just 16-30 (53.3%) from the line. Led by Gill and Kelley combining for 26 points, the Tigers held a 30-18 edge in points in the paint.
Gill led the Tigers with 14 points, while Kelley (12) and senior Ross Rivera (11) each added double figure scoring days. Taku had nine rebounds to lead the Tigers.
Pacific is next in action with a game against North Dakota on Sunday, December 1. The game time is set for 4:30 p.m. in the Tigers' final game of the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge at Oregon.