Tale Of Two Halves Sends Pacific To Defeat At USF

D.J. Ursery - Photo by: KeithSanpeiPhoto.com
D.J. Ursery - Photo by: KeithSanpeiPhoto.com

San Francisco, Calif. - Closing out the opening weekend of WCC play on the road, the Tigers suffered an 89-76 loss at San Francisco on Wednesday night as the Dons used a big second half on the Hilltop to capture the win. Pacific (2-9) suffered its first loss in WCC play to fall to 1-1 while the Dons (7-5) grabbed their first win in conference play.

Hot from the outset, the Tigers jumped on the Dons right out of the gate thanks to sharpshooting from the outside. Pacific would hit three-straight from behind the arc as T.J. Wallace bookended a four-point play from Alec Kobre just minutes into the game to get Pacific rolling. The last two threes were part of a 7-0 run by the Tigers that helped Pacific double up the Dons, 12-6, by the first media break.

After slowing slightly, the Tigers would find their stroke from the outside once again as the clock neared the 10:00 minute mark of the half when Ilias Theodorou and D.J. Ursery went back-to-back from deep. For Ursery, the three was his first of the year as the sophomore banked one in from the left angle to give the Tigers a double-digit lead at 23-13.

Using their defense to create quick offense, the Tigers went on a 16-5 run in just over three minutes, pushing their lead to 18 at 40-22 with 3:59 remaining in the half. A pair of free throws by the Dons out of the media timeout momentarily stopped the on rush by Pacific but the Tigers would again answer with a three by Ray Bowles, their eighth of the first half, to push the lead to its largest at 19. The Dons would take advantage of a tightly called game in the final minutes, the free throw line, and a 12-2 run late to cut the Tigers' lead to just nine by half as Pacific took a 45-36 advantage into the lockerroom.

The Dons would extend their run out of the break with seven quick points as Pacific led by just two before getting a small run of its own started when Wallace banked a runner in at the 17:45 mark in the half. The runner by Wallace stopped the bleeding for the Tigers and kicked off a 6-0 run that gave Pacific some breathing room as the game got tight. David Taylor would knock down a three with 14:45 to go in the half to give the Tigers a six point lead while a free throw by Maleke Haynes made it 55-48 moments later.

The seven-points would again quickly vanish as the Dons scored five-straight including hitting their third three of the half to make it a two-point game at 55-53. Using the bonus just nine minutes into the half, USF would cut the Tiger lead to just one at 58-57 with just over 10 minutes to play. The Dons would take their first lead of the game on a three by Devin Watson two possessions later. The Watson three was the first of three-straight from behind the arc as the two teams traded the lead six times in three minutes.

With the Dons heating up from outside, the Tigers looked to Ursery to keep pace as the second-year Tiger scored 11-straight for Pacific including hitting seven from the free throw line. His streak would end when Theodorou hit a pair from the line with 7:07 remaining to give Pacific back the lead at 68-66.

For the Tigers, the two point advantage would be their last as USF continued its hot shooting from the outside from Watson and Ronnie Boyce, draining their seventh three of the half to spark a 9-0 run that put them up 75-68 with 4:33 remaining. Every time the Tigers would score the Dons had an answer on the other end as USF extended their lead to double-digits as the game drifted towards the one-minute mark.

The Dons used nine second half threes to score 53 points after the break to turn a nine-point Tiger lead at the break into a 13-point victory at the finish. Watson paced four Dons in double-figures with 23 points including hitting 5-of-5 from deep while Boyce scored 20 including four from three. Derksen would finish with 16 points and 14 rebounds while Uche Ofoegbu ended with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Scoring 11 points in the second half, Ursery finished his night with a career-best 16 points to go with three rebounds and three assists. Bowles ended with 13 points while Wallace and Kobre each tallied 11. Wallace would play just 14 minutes before fouling out of the game for the first time in the season. After knocking down eight threes in the first half, the Tigers would make just one of six in the second half to finish 9-of-21 in the game.

The win for the Dons marked their sixth-straight over the Tigers since Pacific joined the WCC in 2013-14.

The Tigers will take a brief break for the holidays before returning to the court on New Year's Eve when Pacific hosts San Diego at the Spanos Center. The Dec. 31 WCC contest is scheduled for 6:00 pm.