Stockton, Calif. - Kicking off a big stretch of WCC games at home at the Spanos Center, the Tigers came up with a gutty 70-61 victory over Portland on Thursday night in front of 2500 faithful. Pacific's (6-12) win was the second-straight for the Tigers who improved to 4-4 in conference play while the Pilots (10-11) suffered the road loss to fall to 3-5 in the WCC.
After a sloppy opening four minutes saw just 10 combined points, the Tigers would take their first lead with 14:29 in the opening half on a pair of free throws from Sami Eleraky after the big center was fouled going up and under. Moments later, the Tigers would break a second tie and put the Pilots down six on back-to-back bombs from Alec Kobre and Ilias Theodorou. Pacific would double up Portland 15-7 on the next possession when the big Greek beat the Pilots down the floor for an easy layup.
The run for the Tigers would extend to 10 unanswered and the lead to double digits before a pair of free throws put the Pilots on the board after nearly four minutes. A handful of mistakes on the offensive end allowed the Pilots to cut the Tigers' lead to just three with 7:00 to play. Despite the run by the Pilots, Pacific would recover and roll off seven-straight to grow their lead back to double digits once again, at 27-17 as the clock neared the final media.
Again, however, Pacific's end of the half struggles showed as the Tigers went scoreless for the final 2:25 allowing the Pilots to cut Pacific's halftime lead to just four at 32-28. Overall, the Tigers held their lead into the break despite the lack of scoring late thanks to hitting 50.0% from the floor in the half while going 4-for-10 from deep. Kobre lead the way hitting two of four behind the arc with the other two rattling out before going down to net the senior eight first half points.
The 5-0 run that ended the opening foray for the Pilots continued in the second half as they hit the first bucket of the period to chop the Tigers' lead to just two before Kobre drilled a three from the top off a screen by T.J. Wallace. The three kicked off another 9-0 run by the Tigers that saw Ray Bowles drop in four points before throwing an alley-oop to Eleraky to cap the run and make it a 41-30 lead for Pacific, the Tigers' largest of the game.
Again, the Pilots would make a run back at the Tigers after Bowles and Kobre went to the bench for a breather as the Portland answered with its own 10-0 run to cut Pacific's lead back to just one at 41-40 with 11:25 remaining. Pacific would finally break the nearly five minute scoring drought from the line thanks to Bowles forcing that action after coming back into the game just a minute earlier. However, the Pilots would tie the game with a three from D'Marques Tyson on the next possession, knotting the contest at 43-43 with just over 10:00 minutes to play for the first of four draws in the final quarter of the game.
From there, the two teams would trade points with Eric Thompson scoring five-consecutive points for Pacific from the line before a three by Bowles from the angle reestablished a Tiger lead for the next few minutes. With the teams trading points, the Tigers would hold onto the right-side of the back and forth, taking the Portland punches and answering from the line including three more from Thompson. The Tigers would finally shake the Pilots with just over 1:30 to play when Bowles drilled a three from the left corner as the shot clock expired. The third three of the game from the redshirt-sophomore made it a five-point game as Pacific took a 64-59 lead from which the Tigers would finish the Pilots off from the line.
In all, Bowles would score 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half including making 4-of-5 from the field and all six of his freebies from the line in the final frame. He would add two rebounds and two assists to his final totals while also making 3-of-4 from distance. Behind Bowles, Kobre chipped in 11 points despite being saddled with foul trouble most of the second half. The senior ended his night 3-for-7 from deep.
Just missing double-figures was Thompson as the big senior in the middle netted nine points including hitting a career-high seven from the line on 10 attempts. He would grab five rebounds to go with one big block. Wallace led the way on the glass for the Tigers with seven to go with six points and a team-high four assists as Pacific assisted on 14 of 19 field goals in the contest.
The Tigers finished the win off making a season-best 25 free throws on a season-high 34 attempts.
The Pilots put two in double-figures with Alec Wintering scoring a team-best 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting while Tyson ended with 14 points, 11 of which came in the second half.
Pacific remains perfect at home against the Pilots since rejoining the conference in 2013-14 having won all three games inside the Spanos Center.
Pacific will put its win-streak on the line against the league's perennial power in Gonzaga on Saturday, Jan. 23 when the Bulldogs come to town for the WCC's Game of the Week. The contest is scheduled for 1:00 pm and can be seen on the conference's regional partners Comcast, Root, and Time Warner.