Defensive Stand The Difference As Pacific Takes Down LMU On The Road

Sami Eleraky - Photo by: Matt Brown
Sami Eleraky - Photo by: Matt Brown

Los Angeles, Calif. - Gutting out a win on the road for the first time on the year, the Tigers took down LMU, 60-58, in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 9. The win was Pacific's (4-11) first away from Stockton on the year and improved the Tigers' conference record to 3-3. For the Lions (7-9) the loss was just their second at home at Gersten Pavilion while remaining winless in WCC play at 0-5. 

The win kept the Tigers streak alive in Los Angeles as Pacific has won all three meetings at Gersten Pavilion since rejoining the WCC prior to the 2013-14 season. Pacific has not lost in Los Angeles since the 1998 season.

In a game that saw just two Tigers hit double figures in Alec Kobre and Sami Eleraky, it was a pair of huge defensive efforts at the end of the contest that proved to be the difference in the tightly contested game. Pacific came up with two stops in the game's final minute to make a late two-point advantage stick en route to the win.

Making an immediate impact when entering the game before the second media, D.J. Ursery took command of the Tigers' second unit and led the Tigers on a run that put Pacific out in front after a slow start. Grabbing a block and five-quick points, Ursery sparked a 13-2 run by the Tigers that changed a four-point deficit into an 20-13 lead as the clock fell below the 10 minute mark. In addition to to Ursery, the Tigers were picked up by the hot shooting of Ilias Theodorou as the big sophomore drained a pair of threes from the top of the arc.

After alternating scores and picking up three points from the line, the Tigers would push their lead to its largest at eight with just under five minutes to play in the half when Ursery led Pacific on an odd man break thanks to a miss dunk by the Lions. 

However, the Tigers' struggles to close out halves caught up to them once again as LMU erased Pacific's lead and took one of its own just minutes later. Thanks to the Tigers' getting loose with the ball, LMU was able to go on an 11-0 run in barely over two minute's time to take a 31-28 lead with just under two minutes to play in the half. Pacific would pick up a pair of free throws from Eleraky just before half, but a miss at the end of the period kept the Tigers from taking back the lead heading to the break.

The run would continue for the Lions out of the lockerroom as the Tigers gave up five quick points and turned the ball over on their first possession to fall behind by six, their largest deficit of the game. After nearly seven minutes without a field goal spanning the two halves, the Tigers finally broke their dry spell with a three-pointer from T.J. Wallace at the 17:47 mark in the second half. Minutes later Kobre took over the game on three-straight possessions as he hit a pair of threes from deep behind the arc to give Pacific back the lead at 39-37 with 14:49 to play. In between the two threes, Kobre took a charge that took points off the board for the Lions and kept Pacific's run intact. 

After a 5-0 run put the Lions back out front, the Tigers looked inside to wrestle back control of the contest as Pacific fed Eleraky a pair of easy buckets as part of 7-2 run by the 7-0 footer himself. However, just as the Tigers appeared to have the game going their way a rash of turnovers, including four-straight, kept Pacific from breaking away. Down 50-48 with just over four to play in the game, the Tigers got the break they needed when Kobre was fouled hitting a three from the right angle, giving Pacific a rare four-point play and the lead once again.  

The Tigers would push the lead to six with three minutes to play in the game, but a pair of three-point plays by the Lions quickly made it a race to the finish with the game tied at 58-58 with 1:26 to play. Despite the charge by the Lions, Pacific would finally put LMU away for good when Jacob Lampkin put in a layup with :58 seconds to go before closing the game with its defense. Fittingly, it was Lampkin who cut off the final drive of the game that forced a turnover with Pacific's first and only steal of the afternoon. 

In all, Kobre led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting including 4-of-6 from deep. Behind the sharpshooter, the Tigers' center posted a career-best 11 points with Eleraky finishing a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor to go with a team-best six rebounds. Overall, Pacific outshot the Lions 45.5%-to-36.7% including hitting 9-of-21 from distance.

The Lions put three in double-figures led by Brandon Brown's 15 points to go with seven assists and two rebounds. David Humphries would add 12 points while Buay Tuach chipped in 10.

The Tigers continue their three-game road trip in Moraga on Thursday, Jan. 14 when Pacific takes on Saint Mary's. The game is scheduled for 8:00 pm due to the contest being broadcast on ESPNU and the ESPN digital platform.