San Diego, Calif. - On the road for the first time in weeks, the Tigers struggled to find their way against San Diego at the Jenny Craig Pavilion falling 54-43 on Thursday night. Pacific (6-15) was held to a season-low in scoring as they dropped to 4-7 in WCC play while the Toreros (8-14) grabbed their second-straight conference win to improve to 3-8 in the WCC.
Starting slow, the Tigers would finally get on the board after nearly 2:30 without a point and three turnovers in their first four possessions when Ray Bowles hit a pair of free throws after being fouled on a layup attempt. The free throws would get the Tigers on the board but not back in the game as Pacific committed seven early turnovers and shot just 1-for-8 to start as the Toreros jumped ahead 13-4 through the first eight minutes.
After scoring just four points through the first eight minutes, the Tigers finally got on the board after the second media when T.J. Wallace hit a deep three as the shot clock expired to end a nearly five-minute scoreless drought. The fix would be momentary as the Toreros would answer with a three of their own and a midrange jumper to extend their lead to 10 at 18-8 as the clock ticked under 9:00 to play in the half.
The Tigers would close the gap to six but turnovers kept Pacific from gaining anymore ground as Jito Kok made it a 10-point game for the second time with 3:15 to play. Despite the deficit, the Tigers would hold close and finish the half down just six points at 26-20. The 20 points marked the lowest scoring first half of season for Pacific as the Tigers missed seven free throws (6-for-13), turned the ball over 10 times and committed four shot clock violations. For the Toreros, Vasa Pusica did the bulk of the damage scoring half of USD's points with 13 in the half on 6-of-6 shooting.
Out of the break, the Tigers would push their way into the paint and to the rim, scoring the first four points to close within two before a three from Olin Carter III pushed the Toreros back ahead by five at 29-24. A free throw by Kok erased the Tigers' start to the half but the Tigers' renewed energy led by Wallace and Bowles had already taken effect.
After Bowles cut the deficit to just two for the second time with another layup Pacific would finally tie the game for the first time since the opening tip on a drop-in layup by Jacob Lampkin with 16:35 to play in the game. Pacific would miss its first chance to take the lead on its next possession but would not miss a second time when Eric Thompson got position deep in the paint and hit a half hook to put the Tigers ahead for the first time at 32-30 with 15:27 to go as part of an 8-0 Tiger run.
Pusica would end the Tigers' run with a three from the corner to stop the bleeding momentarily, but Alec Kobre came up with the answer seconds later as he drilled his first three of the game from the top of the key. The Kobre three would be Pacific's last basket for over six minutes as the Tigers' offense stalled. A lapse on the perimeter by the Tigers' defensively allowed the Toreros to hit back-to-back threes as part of their own 10-0 run that put Pacific behind by eight before Kobre would hit again from deep to get Pacific back in the scorebook and make it a five-point game at 43-38 at the third media.
Kobre would hit his fourth three of the game moments later followed by a Thompson layup to make it a two point contest once again but a rash of turnovers stopped the rally and allowed the Toreros to push ahead by nine when Cameron Neubauer hit back-to-back point blank shots with just under two minutes to play. The two points would be a close as the Tigers would get as the Toreros took advantage of a loosely called game late in the paint to stifle Pacific's attack while converting their chances to put the game away. In total, the Tigers would go scoreless over the final 5:43 of the game while the Toreros closed on a 9-0 run.
Kobre finished the contest with a team-best 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting as he would be the lone Tiger to hit double-figures in the game. For the Toreros Pusica tallied a career-best 19 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting while Neubauer and Carter III would each add 11.
Both Bowles and Wallace finished the contest with nine points as Bowles added four assists and four rebounds while Wallace grabbed a team-best five rebounds.
Pacific would committee 23 turnovers in the game, one off of its season worst while shooting just 36.6% (15-of-41). The Toreros would end at 46.8% (22-of-47) including hitting 7-of-22 from behind the arc.
Pacific finishes off its weekend road trip with a midday game at BYU in Provo, Utah on Saturday, Feb. 6 when the Tigers and Cougars meet at 1:00 pm in the WCC Game of the Week.