Sacramento, Calif. - In a game that saw eight lead changes in the second half, the Tigers fell on the wrong side of the final flip of the scoreboard as the Eastern Washington held off Pacific late to capture a 70-63 contest on Saturday night. The game marked the first-ever matchup between the two teams and marked the first game of the Sacramento State Invitational for each side as Pacific fell to 1-4 on the year while the Eagles improved to 3-2. Earlier in the evening, South Dakota handed Sacramento State its first loss of the season,96-90, to open the tournament.
After missing their first four shots of the game, the Tigers finally broke the seal on the basket with a layup from Tonko Vuko as the junior got position deep in the paint to set up the easy score. Vuko's initial basket came off a touch pass over the top from Jacob Lampkin when the big sophomore saw his frontcourt mate work for position and rewarded him with the pass. Lampkin would hit a jumper from the baseline for his first points moments later as Pacific attempted to shake off its cold start from the floor.
Down 14-6 thanks to a 7-0 Eagles' run, the Tigers got their third bucket when T.J. Wallace knocked down Pacific's first three of the night from the top of the key to stop the bleeding. Once the initial bleeding was stopped the Tigers finally found a groove a few minutes later thanks to Maleke Haynes as the sophomore came up with four-straight to ignite the Tigers.
From there it was a pair of huge blocks by the Tigers and a rebound and put-back by Anthony Towns that cut the deficit to just one at 22-21 with under one minute to play. Haynes would drain a three from the corner with four seconds to go to finally tie the game for the Tigers, but a three from Ty Gibson at the buzzer allowed the Eagles to take the three-point lead into the break.
Haynes would finish the half with seven points, scoring all seven in the final three minutes of the half to get Pacific back into the game after trailing by as much as eight midway through the half. Pacific would hit four of their final six shots in the half to finish shooting 35.7% from the floor in the half.
The Tigers would start the second half in exactly the same manner as they did the first with a touch pass over the top from Lampkin to Vuko that led to an easy layup. Just a minute later the Tigers would tie the game for the second time on an old-school three-point play by Ray Bowles as the junior hit a layup and a free throw to knot the game at 29-29 just over two minutes into the second half. Bowles would give Pacific its first lead of the night with a pair of free-throws on the very next possession as Bowles' 5-0 run of his own put Pacific in the lead 31-29. For Bowles, the points were the first of the game for the Tigers' leading scorer coming into the night after going 0-for-3 in the first half.
Despite taking the lead, the Tigers could not hold it as the two teams traded the advantage seven more times before a 6-0 run by the Eagles put the Tigers behind by five with just under nine minutes to play. Bowles would end the run with a pair of free throws, before a three-ball from David Taylor and a put-back from Bowles off his own miss knotted the game at 49-49 with 7:00 minutes to play.
Unfortunately for the Tigers that would be the closest the Tigers would get to getting back over the hump as foul trouble and missed opportunities allowed the Eagles to hold their lead the rest of the way. Pacific would cut the lead down to four at 60-56, but the Eagles took advantages of a pair of mental lapses by the Tigers to put the game away for good, putting points on the board in each of their final 10 possessions.
Pacific would put three in double-figures in the game as Bowles scored a team-best 13 points before fouling out. All 13 came in the second half as he went 4-for-12 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the line. Wallace and Haynes would each come up with 11 points while Wallace tallied eight rebounds to lead all players on the glass.
The Eagles saw four players hit double-digits in scoring led by Austin McBroom with a game-high 20 points. The senior cleaned up from the line going a perfect 10-of-10 as the Eagles were 23-of-30 overall from the charity stripe. Outside of McBroom, Venky Jois chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds while Fliex Von Hofe added 12 and Bogdan Bliznyuk went for 10 points and eight rebounds.
Pacific held the rebounding edge overall, 35-to-32, but the Eagles held the edge in the second half, 18-15. The Eagles shot 43.8% to Pacific's 37.5% from the floor.
The Tigers return to the Nest on Sunday, Nov. 29, to take on the host Hornets in the final contest of the 2015 Sacramento State Invitational. The game is scheduled for 5:35 pm. The meeting marks the first matchup between the two local rivals since the 2009 season and the first for Pacific in Sacramento since the 2008.