Tigers Drop WCC Opener To USF

T.J. Wallace (photo by keithsanpeiphoto.com)
T.J. Wallace (photo by keithsanpeiphoto.com)

Stockton, Calif. - The Pacific men's basketball team dropped its West Coast Conference season opener at home to San Francisco 77-71 on Saturday, Dec. 27. The Tigers fell to 8-5, 0-1 in WCC action, while the Dons improved to 7-6 and 1-0 in the WCC.

"This game got away from us tonight. Whenever we have a second half lead I feel like we have a great shot at winning the game," said Head Coach Ron Verlin. "T.J. and Eric had outstanding games. We really have to take better care of the ball and make plays down the stretch."

The Tigers fell behind early, as the Dons took leads of 7-2 and 13-6. David Taylor then capped a 9-0 run with a three-pointer to give Pacific a 15-13 lead with 9:55 to play in the first half. The teams traded baskets to 21-19, when T.J. Wallace hit a jumper and Dulani Robinson hit a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 26-19 with 5:37 to play, their biggest lead of the game. The Tigers were able to take the lead back to the seven point mark again after a three-pointer by Ray Bowles with :15 left, but Mark Tollefsen had a tip-in at the end of the first half to make it a 37-32 Pacific lead at the break.

USF scored the first four points of the second half, but the Tigers countered with a layup from Eric Thompson and a three-pointer by Wallace to get the lead back to six (44-38) with 17:40 to go. The Dons then went on an 11-4 run to take their first lead of the game since the early going at 49-48 with 10:48 remaining. Wallace answered with a trey to turn it in the Tigers' favor again, and finished off a 6-0 stretch with a three-pointer to give the Tigers a 59-53 lead with 7:40 to play. An 8-0 stretch by the Dons quickly turned it into a 61-59 USF lead with 5:43 to go, but four straight from Wallace and Thompson put the Tigers back up two (63-61) at the 4:22 mark. Three Tiger missed shots and a turnover played a part in another 9-0 USF run to give the Dons a 70-63 lead with just 1:04 to play. Robinson answered with a deep three to make it 70-66 with :54 to play, but the Tigers would get no closer.

Wallace led the Tigers with a career-high 26 points, while Thompson added 17 points on 7-9 shooting from the field. Pacific held a 36-30 rebounding edge, including 11 on the offensive end. The Tigers were outscored 16-2 in points off of turnovers, as they committed 14 and USF just three. Pacific shot 48.1% from the field. The Dons were 45.9% from the field, including 15-28 (53.6%) in the second half.

Pacific is next in action with a home game against Santa Clara at the Alex G. Spanos Center on Monday, Dec. 29. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m.