Tigers Pull Away From Fresno State in Second Half For 86-77 Win

Khalil Kelley (photo by Go Chic Photography)
Khalil Kelley (photo by Go Chic Photography)

Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific men's basketball team shot 58% from the field in the second half to pull away from Fresno State in an 86-77 victory on Saturday, November 23 at the Alex G. Spanos Center.

"We really won this game in the second half, with great shooting from the field and the free throw line," said Head Coach Ron Verlin. "I couldn't be happier for Khalil (Kelley). He had a breakout game and really helped in the big runs that separated the game in the second half. Bock is also really coming into his own, scoring 19 points and making all 12 free throw attempts."

There were four lead changes in the first five minutes as the Bulldogs took a 12-8 lead. Senior Sama Taku had six of the Tigers' first eight points on the way to eight first half points. A layup from senior Tony Gill and a three-pointer by junior Aaron Short switched it back to a 13-12 Pacific advantage with 12:47 to play. After the Bulldogs took the lead back at 15-13, freshman T.J. Wallace hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Tigers a 19-15 lead with 8:30 to play.  Fresno State went on an 8-2 run to take a 23-21 lead, but the Tigers finished the half by outscoring the Bulldogs 6-3 to hold a 27-26 lead at the break.

A three-pointer by Gill and a pair of free throws by Taku opened up a 32-26 lead for the Tigers. The Bulldogs cut it with a three-pointer from Tyler Johnsons, but the Tigers took a game-best 10 point lead (41-31) after a 9-2 run keyed by a pair of baskets from senior Khalil Kelley. The Bulldogs then outscored the Tigers 11-4, to cut the lead back to 45-42 with 11:27 remaining in the game. Kelley scored four more points in an 8-2 run as the Tigers pushed the lead back to nine (53-44) with 8:58 to play. FSU chopped it to 55-48 after a free throw from Johnson, but the Tigers pulled ahead by their largest margin of the game (66-51) with 6:09 to play after an 11-3 run capped again by a pair of baskets from Kelley. The Tigers lead did not drop below nine the rest of the way, getting 18 of their final 20 points from the free throw line.

Senior Andrew Bock scored a career-high 19 points, including 12-12 from the free throw line. Kelley added a career-high 16 points while grabbing a season-best 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Taku added 16 points, while Gill scored 12 points to go along with three steals. Johnson led Fresno State with 25 points.

The Tigers shot 44.8% for the game, hitting 26 of 58 from the field. Pacific again shared the ball well, with 19 assists on 26 field goals. A 41-27 rebounding advantage led to an 18-5 edge in second chance points for the Tigers.

Pacific is next in action at Oregon on Friday, November 29. The game has a 12:00 p.m. start time as part of the Global Sports Hardwood Classic and can been seen nationally on the Pac-12 Network.