Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific men's basketball secured the No. 2 seed in the Big West Conference Tournament with a 71-51 home victory over Long Beach State on Saturday, March 9. With the win, Pacific improved to 19-12 on the season, 13-5 in league play. Long Beach State dropped to 18-12 overall and 14-4 in league action. With the win, Pacific tied a school record with its 13th home win of the season. The 1969-70 and 1997-98 teams both won 13 at home. Before the game, the seven Tiger seniors were honored along with Head Coach Bob Thomason, who is retiring at the end of his 25th season.
"To finish 9-0 at home in league is special and I'm really happy for our seniors," said Thomason. "I thought we played one our best second halves of the year. What a great evening! It was great share this evening with not only players I coached, but also teammates."
Pacific fell behind early, as the 49ers opened a 9-2 lead. Five straight points from junior Khalil Kelley started an 8-0 run to give the Tigers a 10-9 lead with 12:58 to play in the half. Deng Deng gave LBSU a 14-12 lead, before a 7-0 stretch made it a 19-14 Tiger advantage with 8:23 to play. The 49ers cut the lead to 23-22, but the Tigers closed the half on an 8-0 run. Three-pointers from junior Tony Gill and senior Lorenzo McCloud and a short jumper from junior Sama Taku accounted for the run as the Tigers took a 31-22 lead into the half.
In the early minutes of the second half, LBSU cut the Tiger lead to six (34-28), but an 11-0 run featuring five points from Taku extended the lead to 45-28 with 14:57 left in the game. LBSU's Mike Caffey scored four points in a 6-0 stretch to cut it back to 45-34, but the Tigers then made a game-changing surge. Over the next six minutes Pacific outscored the 49ers 16-0, including three-pointers from Taku, junior Trevin Harris and senior Markus Duran. Harris capped the run with three free throws after being fouled on the outside. The Tiger lead did not fall below 20 the rest of the way, as Pacific cruised to the victory.
Taku led the Tigers with 14 points, while Beatty added 10 points. James Ennis had 12 points to lead LBSU.
The Tigers shot 44.4% from the field, including 9-20 (45.0%) from three-point range. Pacific held the 49ers to 1-16 (6.3%) shooting from three-point range. Taking advantage of 18 Long Beach State miscues, Pacific held a 21-11 edge in points off of turnovers.
Pacific Head Coach Bob Thomason, finished his home career with 249 victories in the Spanos Center.
Pacific is next in action with a 12:00 p.m. game against UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, March 14 at the Big West Tournament in Anaheim.