Santa Clara Inches Past Pacific 69-68

Photo Courtesy of Keith Sanpei
Photo Courtesy of Keith Sanpei

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Pacific Tigers had a chance to tie at the buzzer in their final road game of the season before falling to the Santa Clara Broncos 69-68.  The loss takes Pacific out of the running for the sixth seed and a first-round bye in the WCC Tournament. 

The Tigers are now 10-20 this year and 4-13 in conference.  Santa Clara improves to 16-14 overall and 10-7 in the WCC. 

Anthony Townes led the way for the Tigers, setting a new career-high in points with 22 and recording his sixth double-double of the year and second in the last three games.  Over his last ten games, Townes is averaging 12.7 PPG and 8.4 RPG.

Ray Bowles and TJ Wallace each scored 18 for the Tigers.  Wallace's 18, coming on just ten shots, were his most since putting up 25 against Pepperdine on January 12. 

Threes by Bowles and Wallace gave Pacific a chance to tie the game on the last possession as Pacific made seven of their final ten shots.  The Tigers ran through a series of screens, getting Williams a look that barely missed, bouncing off the front of the rim to Townes, who put in the layup as the buzzer sounded.

Pacific shot 51% (25-49) in the game thanks to a 60% (15-25) in the second half that included six of the Tigers' seven threes in the game.  The Tigers outrebounded Santa Clara 32-23 in the game but 14 turnovers spelled doom for Pacific. 

The Tigers started the game making five of their first eight shots, with eight of their first 11 points in the paint.  Pacific's defense found an early groove as well, forcing three turnovers in six minutes and holding the Broncos to 1-for-7 shooting from three in that time. 

Unfortunately, a four-minute scoring drought followed soon thereafter, letting Santa Clara take an 18-15 lead due to a 9-0 run.  Wallace would end that run with a step-back three as the senior scored nine points in his first 11 minutes of work returning from an injury. 

Pacific tied the game back up at 24 with 3:28 left in the half.  The Tigers held the Broncos without a field goal for 2:25 before tying it as well, only to have four late turnovers help Santa Clara take a 32-26 lead into the half.

Pacific shot 42% (10-24) in the first half, with 14 of their 26 points coming in the paint while making just one of their six three-point attempts.  Santa Clara shot 48% (12-25) from the field and 35% (6-17) from beyond the arc. 

Blocks by Townes and Jack Williams helped key the Tigers to a four-minute stand in the second half in which the Broncos could not score.  Pacific's 7-0 run during that time tied the game seven minutes into the second at 37-37.

The Broncos made five threes on five consecutive possessions over a 2:30 span to build their lead back up to ten with 7:33 remaining at 55-45.  Neither team made a two-pointer for nine minutes as Pacific drained four threes and Santa Clara eight in the first 15 minutes of the half. The Tigers continued to make shots all half, shooting 60% in the final 20 minutes.

Townes provided the energy Pacific needed at 4:34, leaping from behind and swatting away an attempted dunk by Santa Clara for his second block of the day.  The Tigers responded with Ray Bowles' second and-one of the day, cutting it to 58-54 with 3:51 left.

Pacific will have one more game in the regular season as they celebrate senior day at home on Saturday at 7:00 pm against Loyola Marymount.  After that, the Tigers will head to Las Vegas for the WCC Tournament, beginning March 3.