Tigers Fall In West Coast Conference Tournament Opening Round

Sama Taku
Sama Taku

Las Vegas, Nev. - The Pacific men's basketball team dropped an 81-64 decision against Santa Clara on Thursday, March 6 in the opening round of the West Coast Conference Tournament at the Orleans Arena. With the loss, the Tigers finished the regular season 15-15 overall. Santa Clara improved to 14-18 overall.

"We were hoping for a better finish to the season," said Pacific Head Coach Ron Verlin. "Coming into the tournament, we felt that we could get a fresh start. Unfortunately it was rough finish tonight. From top to bottom the WCC is a very good league."

The Tigers fell behind 5-0, but scored eight straight to take an 8-5 lead with five minutes gone by in the half. After three ties, Santa Clara pulled ahead 18-15 with 8:21 to play in the half. Pacific got five straight on a jumper from senior Sama Taku and a three-pointer by Tony Gill to take a 20-18 lead with 7:35 remaining in the half, but Evan Roquemore hit a pair of three-pointers in an 8-3 stretch as the Broncos reclaimed a 26-23 lead. A pair of free throws from Gill brought the Tigers back to within one (28-27), but the Broncos extended to a 34-29 halftime lead.

A pair of free throws by senior Khalil Kelley brought the Tigers to within 34-31 in the opening moments of the second half. The Broncos scored five straight to start a 15-6 stretch to get their first double-digit lead (49-37) with 14:26 to play. Pacific cut it back to nine (51-42) after a three-point play by Taku, but the Broncos pushed the lead back to 14 (56-42) at the 11 minute mark with five straight points and kept the lead in the double digits the rest of the way.

Taku led the Tigers with 16 points, while Gill added 10 points. Freshman T.J. Wallace added six points and a career-high seven rebounds. Pacific was outrebounded 37-28, including a 15-9 Bronco advantage in offensive rebounds. The Tigers shot 40.8% (20-49) from the field and 22.2% (4-18) from three-point range.