Tigers Use Fast Start To Defeat Western Illinois

Sama Taku (photo by Go Chic Photography)
Sama Taku (photo by Go Chic Photography)

Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific men's basketball team defeated Western Illinois 66-52 on Sunday, November 16 at the Alex G. Spanos Center. With the victory, the Tigers improved to 3-0, while the Leathernecks dropped to 0-3 on year. The 3-0 start for the Tigers is the first since the 2009-10 opened 3-0.

"I couldn't have been happier with the way we started today's game," said Head Coach Ron Verlin. "We did a great job overall, though our shots didn't fall in in the second half. We now turn our attention to Fresno State, with almost a week to prepare for a tough game with the Bulldogs."

The Tigers held WIU scoreless for the first 3:50 of the game, taking an early 11-0 lead. After a three-pointer from WIU's Garret Covington, Pacific stretched the lead to 23-3 thanks to another 12-0 run. Pacific hit its first nine shots from the field. Seniors Sama Taku (9 points) and Tony Gill (6 points) sparked the Tigers in the runs. The Leathernecks used a 10-3 stretch to cut the lead to 26-13 with 8:35 to play in the half. An 11-4 run capped by a Bock three-pointer made it 37-17 with 5:23 to go and Pacific led 44-23 at the break.

Taku scored three points and Gill scored four as Pacific opened the second half with a 7-2 start to take its largest lead of the game (51-25) with 16:49 to play in the game. A 9-2 run sparked by four points from Covington cut the Tiger lead to 18 (57-39) with 9:39 to play. After senior Andrew Bock hit a jumper to give the Tigers a 61-39 lead with 8:20 to play, Pacific went without a point for over four minutes. The Leathernecks went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead back to 15 (61-46), the closest they had been since early in the first half. A three-pointer from Gill took it back to 66-48, but WIU scored the final four points for the 14 point final margin.

Gill led the Tigers with 19 points, while Taku added 16 and Bock had 13. The Tigers shot 58.1% in the first half (18-31), but just 27.3% in the final 20 minutes (6-22). The Leathernecks outscored the Tigers 29-22 in the second half.

The Tigers are next in action with a home game against Fresno State on Saturday, Nov. 23. It is a doubleheader with the Pacific women's team. The Tiger women's basketball team takes on Arizona at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, with the men's game against the Bulldogs beginning at 7:30 p.m.