Stockton, Calif. - The Pacific men's basketball team held on for a 59-57 win over San Diego with two dramatic blocks in the final seconds. The Tigers improved to 10-9, 2-5 in WCC action, while USD dropped to 9-11 and 2-6 in WCC play.
"Tonight was a great defensive matchup," said Head Coach Ron Verlin. "Neither team shot over 40% and we had our best defensive effort of the year. T.J. is getting healthy and had a great game tonight. The sequence at the end of the with Eric and Sami getting blocks on three-pointers was one the best game-ending defensive sequences I've seen."
The Tigers bolted to an 11-1 lead with four points from T.J. Wallace leading the way, while holding the the Toreros to 0-9 shooting to start the game and setting the defensive tone. Duda Sanadze started a 9-0 USD run with a three-pointer, as the Toreros cut the lead to 11-10 at the 9:11 mark. The Tigers got the lead back up to four thanks to a three-pointer from Ray Bowles, but USD took the lead back a few minutes later after a 9-2 run that turned an 18-14 Tiger lead into a 23-20 deficit with 4:09 left. Pacific cut it back to one twice, but the Toreros held a 27-24 halftime lead.
The lead changed hands seven times in the first 10 minutes of the second half. After Gabriel Aguirre scored on a layup to take a 35-34 lead at 11:23, USD scored six straight with the last three coming on a three-pointer from Marcus Harris to take a 40-35 lead with 9:32 to play. With USD leading 43-38, the Tigers used a 7-0 run capped by a free throw from Bowles to take a 45-43 lead with 5:54 left. With the scored tied at 47-47, David Taylor hit back to back three-pointers sandwiched around a three from Johnny Dee to give Pacific a 53-50 lead with 3:25 to go. Three USD free throws knotted it up again, then Sami Eleraky had a tip-in on a Wallace miss to give the Tigers the lead at 55-53. Four free throws from Dee gave the Toreros a two point lead, but Wallace scored and was fouled to tie the game for the 11th time and switch the lead for the 13th and final team. With under :10 left, Eleraky blocked a three-point attempt by Dee and played great defense under the basket as the Toreros had a shot clock violation. Taylor made one of two free throws, with :03 left and USD had one final chance. Sanadze took a three-pointer from the right wing, but Eric Thompson swatted it for the Tigers season-best eighth block as time expired.
Wallace led the Tigers with 22 points, while Bowles equaled his career high with 12 points. Thompson had career highs with 11 rebounds and five blocks. Pacific shot 39.0% from the field, but held USD to defensive season-best 29.2% shooting. The Tigers held a slim 34-32 rebounding edge.
Pacific is next in action with a road game at Portland on Thursday, Jan. 22. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m in Portland and it will be televised by theW.tv.