Tigers Recover To Upend Xavier, 70-67

Trevin Harris (photo by Gary Jones)
Trevin Harris (photo by Gary Jones)

Anaheim, Calif. - The Pacific men's basketball team recovered from a slow start to defeat Xavier, 70-67 in the opening round of the DirecTV Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 22. Pacific improved to 2-2 with the win, while the Musketeers fell to 3-1. The Tigers are the first Big West Conference team in six years of the DirecTV Classic to win their opening round game.

"This is a great win for our program, especially for our team," said Pacific head coach Bob Thomason. "I thought our guys did a tremendous job. Trevin had a great first half shooting the ball. One thing about our team is that we're going to have different guys stepping up all the time." 

"Once a shooter sees the ball go in, it's a little easier to take the next shot," said junior Trevin Harris. "I've really got to give a lot of the credit to my teammates. They found me in good positions to score the ball so hats off to the people that got me the ball."

After a tough start from the field where they missed their first six shots, the Tigers fell behind 11-2. Pacific then scored the next 10 points, including six from Harris to take a 12-11 lead. The Musketeers scored on the next possession, but the Tigers countered to regain the lead at 14-13 after a pair of free throws from junior Andrew Bock and extended the lead to 28-22 on a jumper from junior Khalil Kelley and a layup by Harris. A three-pointer from Xavier's Dee Davis cut the Tigers' lead to 32-30 at the break. Harris had a season-high 14 points in the first half.

Going back and forth at the beginning of the second half, the game was tied for the fifth time at 38-38. Back to back layups by juniors Kelley and Ross Rivera gave the Tigers a 42-38 advantage. After an Isaiah Philmore hit a three-pointer to cut Pacific's lead to 44-43, the Tigers made their move to take control of the game. Senior Travis Fulton hit two three-pointers in a 12-3 run to push the Tiger lead to 56-46 with 9:15 remaining. The Musketeers came right back, cutting the lead to 58-54 with 6:02 to play. Junior Sama Taku scored four straight for his first points of the game to give the Tigers an eight point lead (64-56) with 3:52 to go. A pair of free throws and a three-pointer by Justin Martin again cut the Tiger lead to three (64-61), but Taku scored on a short jumper and junior Tony Gill knocked in a pair of layups to get the lead to 70-61 with :35 to play. The Musketeers' Justin Martin hit a three-pointer to cut the Tigers' lead to 70-67 and sent Pacific senior Lorenzo McCloud to the line for a one-and-one. McCloud missed, but a last second heave by Davis was off the mark so the Tigers were able to walk away with the victory.

Harris led the Tigers with a season-high 16 points, hitting a career-high four three-pointers and scoring 14 of the points in the first half. Fulton and Gill each added 10 points, with Fulton getting a team-high six rebounds. Taku scored eight points, all in the second half. Semaj Christon led Xavier with 18 points.

Both teams shot well from the field, as the Tigers outshot Xavier 56.9% (29-51)-47.9% (23-48). The Tigers out-rebounded Xavier 30-22. Pacific's bench came up big, outscoring the Musketeers bench 44-7, including a 28-2 advantage in the first half.

The Tigers will face Saint Mary's on Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the semi-final round. The game will be televised by ESPN2.