Tigers Win In Final Seconds To Open Season At Western Illinois

Gabriel Aguirre (photo by Go Chic Photography)
Gabriel Aguirre (photo by Go Chic Photography)

Macomb, Ill. - Gabriel Aguirre scored the game-winning layup on a pick and roll from David Taylor with 2.1 seconds left in overtime as the Pacific men's basketball team defeated Western Illinois 73-71 in the season opener for both teams on Friday, Nov. 14. The Tigers begin the year 1-0 in similar fashion to last year's last second 80-78 win at Nevada.

"What a way to start the season," said Head Coach Ron Verlin. "It was a tough, hard fought game from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Every possession was played with intensity and I couldn't be more proud of our guys."

Ray Bowles scored a pair of baskets as the Tigers opened up a 6-2 lead in the first two minutes. The Leathernecks evened it up at 10-10 and 12-12, before Pacific took the lead back with a little breathing room. Alec Kobre scored five points in a 12-4 run over a four minute span to give Pacific its largest lead at 24-16 with 7:45 to play in the first half. WIU scored six straight to cut it back to to 24-22 at 5:42, but the Tigers got it back up to a six point span (32-26) on another Kobre three-pointer. A pair of layups by Jacob Lampkin brought it back to a 36-29 lead with 1:37 to play and a basket by Remy Roberts-Burnett made it 36-31 at the break.

Pacific was out-scored 10-1 to start the second half, as WIU took a 41-37 lead with 16:16 to play. The Leathernecks pushed it up to a 47-40 lead with 13:35 to play. T.J. Wallace then scored nine straight points for the Tigers, as the Tigers used a 12-3 run to take the lead at 55-53 with 7:30 to go. WIU evened it back up at 55-55 on a layup by Dalan Ancrum, the first of four ties in the final seven minutes. The Tigers were tied or trailed for most of the remaining time, but a layup by Bowles off of an offensive rebound gave Pacific a 67-66 lead with 1:16 left in the game. Mike Miklusak hit one of three from the line with :55 left to even it at 67-67. Taylor missed a jumper with :23 left for the Tigers, then Tate Stensgaard missed for WIU as time expired in regulation.

The Leathernecks took a 70-67 lead in overtime after three of four free throw shooting from Garret Covington. Eric Thompson scored on a layup with 2:53 left and Taylor evened it up with a layup at 1:43 to play. After Covington missed a pair of three-pointers, the Tigers set up the final play, with Taylor beautifully dishing off to Aguirre for the finish. A half-court heave by J.C. Fuller was off the mark and the Tigers held on for the victory.

Wallace had 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to lead the Tigers with his first career double-double. Taylor added 13 points, while Thompson had 12 points in his debut and Aguirre scored a career-high 10 points with a career high-tying eight rebounds.

The Tigers shot 41.9% from the field (26-62), while holding WIU to 39.7% shooting (23-58). Pacific held a 43-38 rebounding edge and a 34-16 advantage on points in the paint.

Pacific finishes the two game road trip with a tilt at UC Irvine on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 3:00 p.m.