Bowles Powers Pacific To First WCC Tourney Win

Ray Bowles (photo by Kyle Terada)
Ray Bowles (photo by Kyle Terada)

WCC Tournament CentralPost-Game Press Conference Video

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Ray Bowles scored a career-high 26 points as the Pacific men's basketball team recorded its first-ever West Coast Conference tournament win, 89-84, over Pepperdine Friday at Orleans Arena.

Anthony Townes finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Jack Williams added 14 points, T.J. Wallace 13, and Tonko Vuko 10 as five Tigers reached double-figures. Williams added nine rebounds while Bowles handed out seven assists.

In a game that featured seven ties, 19 lead changes and was within five points for all but 52 seconds of game time, it was the extra pass that made the difference. The Tigers handed out 22 assists to the Waves' 16, and outscored Pepperdine in the paint 42-26.

Pacific shot 53 percent for the game, including 56 percent in the second half. Pepperdine finished at 49 percent for the game as Pacific held the Waves to 42 percent in the second half.

The win was Pacific's first in the WCC Tournament since re-joining the conference before the 2013-14 season. The Tigers won West Coast Conference titles in 1966, 1967, 1970 and 1971, but each time as regular season champions prior to the league instituting a post-season tournament. The Tigers left for the Big West after the 1971 season, 26 years before the first WCC tournament in 1987.

Pepperdine struck first with an and-one from Lamond Murray, and led 5-0 before a pair of buckets from Bowles. Townes finished in the paint to tie the game at 7-7, but the Waves responded with back-to-back jumpers from Murray for an 11-7 advantage. After another Townes bucket, Wallace delivered a three for the first Tigers' lead of the night, 12-11.

Murray and Jack Williams traded three-pointers. Williams found Vuko underneath for a lay-up, but Murray answered back with a three as the Waves led 19-17. Vuko finished inside again and Williams drilled another triple prior to a fast break dunk from Vuko for a 24-21 Pacific lead. But the Waves picked up three-straight buckets. Bowles and Townes each powered inside and Williams connected from deep yet again for an seven-point swing and a 31-27 advantage.

But Jeremy Major led the Waves back with five-straight points. Townes back down his defender and scored, but Major charged through the paint for a bucket. After a pair of free throws from Bowles, Wallace finished at the rim for a 39-36 lead, but the Waves tied the game from the free throw line. D.J. Ursery hung and hit for a 41-39 lead, but Murray picked up a three before the end of the half as the Waves snuck in front, 42-41, at the break.

Murray tallied 25 first-half points, while Williams and Townes each posted nine before at intermission.

Wallace knocked down a three from the wing for a 44-42 lead to start the second, but picked up his fourth foul with 15:35 to go in regulation. Jonathan Allen hit a three from the corner as the Waves surged ahead, 48-46. Williams added a jumper and Bowles completed a three-point play for a 52-50 Pacific lead. Maleke Haynes added a three-pointer from the top of the key, but the Waves knotted it at 57-57 on a three from Knox Hellums. Bowles connected on a triple and the Tigers took their largest lead to that point at 64-59 on free throws from Bowles.

Pepperdine pulled within one from the stripe, but Townes got the hoop and some harm and the free throw gave the Tigers a 67-63 lead with 7:38 remaining. The Waves trimmed the margin again, before Bowles drove and finished with the left hand and then drove and finished again while being fouled. Williams found Townes underneath for a 77-72 lead with 4:01 to go.

Murray hit a jumper and Major added a lay-up as the Waves pulled within one, 77-76, with 2:57 to go. Wallace rattled home a three from the corner, and after trading free throws for an 85-79 lead, Townes delivered an emphatic dunk with 1:09 to play. The Waves didn't go quietly as Murray connected on a three with 1:02 left and a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left. After using the shot clock, Bowles drove and got to the line with 27 seconds left and hit them both as the Tigers closed it out.

Murray led all scorers with 41 points, four shy of the WCC tournament record. Pepperdine wraps the season at 9-22 overall.

Pacific improves to 11-21 overall on the year and advances to the WCC quarterfinals. The Tigers will face No. 4 Gonzaga, the top seed in the WCC tournament, at 7 p.m. PT on ESPN2.