RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Pacific men's basketball program snagged a narrow 57-55 victory at UC Riverside Thursday night to improve to 4-4 on the season.
The Tigers controlled the game from tip-off until intermission. Neither team scored until nearly three minutes into the contest and first on the board was Jahlil Tripp with a made layup at 17:43. The Tigers extended their lead with three more quick points by Tripp. Pacific put themselves nearly out of reach in the first half after going on a 15-3 run, which concluded with two make free throw shots by Myles Reynolds, that extended its lead to 17 points with just 3:14 remaining. The Highlanders wrapped up the half with a 10-2 edge that put them back within nine points of the Tigers.
Defense was outstanding once again for the Tigers as they only allowed UCR nine shots from the field for a 26.5 shooting percentage and forcing nine turnovers.
Anthony Townes led the Tigers offensively at the half with a team-high eight points, while Tripp contributed seven points, five rebounds, and three assists.
UC Riverside had a complete turnaround in the second half, shooting nearly 45 percent and erasing its deficit with a three-pointer at 10:28 to tie the game at 46-46. After opening the second half with a nine-point lead, the Tigers allowed the highlanders to go on a 24-15 run to come within three points, the teams smallest deficit since the 14:51 mark in the first half.
The Tigers began to pull away again after a dunk and made jumper by Namdi Okonkwo and a put back by Jack Williams provided Pacific with an eight point lead (56-48). UCR answered right back with a 5-0 run to stay in it, but a huge blocked three point attempt by Okonkwo prevented the highlanders from tying the game again. Pacific allowed just two more points by its opponent and with a made free throw by Townes with just 00:59 left on the clock the Tigers were able to hold on for the win.
Three Pacific players scored in double-digits, Williams led with 13 points, while Townes and Tripp finished with 11 points apiece. Williams shot four-for-eight from the floor, including a three-for-seven effort from three-point range. He was also two-for-two from the free throw line.
Tripp dished out a team-best six assists.
Tripp and Okonkwo led on the boards, each snagging eight rebounds. Okonkwo also totaled a season-best five blocks. Tripp also had two steals.
As a team, Pacific shot 41.5 percent (22-53) from the field, 33.3 percent (5-15) from beyond the arc, and 61.5 percent (8-13) from the charity stripe.
The Tigers return home Sunday for their game against Arkansas-Fort Smith. Tip-off is set for 3:00 pm.