Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific men's basketball held off a late rally by UC Riverside to claim a 63-58 home win on Thursday, Jan. 24. With the win, Pacific improved to 11-8 on the season and 5-2 in Big West play. UC Riverside dropped to 5-14 overall, 2-5 in league action.
In the opening moments, Pacific had steals on the first four possessions of the game by the Highlanders as the Tigers took an early 13-3 lead. Senior Lorenzo McCloud paced the Tigers with six early points. The Highlanders used a pair of three-pointers from Robert Smith to cut the Tiger lead to 19-17 with 7:34 to play after a 14-6 run. Senior Colin Beatty started a 7-0 Pacific run over the next three minutes with a three-point play, moving the lead back to 26-17. The Tigers held a 31-24 halftime lead.
In the second half the Tigers slowly built the lead to a game-high 15 points (48-33) after a three-pointer by senior Markus Duran with 12:32 to play in the game. The Highlanders then used a 14-4 run over the next five minutes to cut it back to five (52-47) and kept it close the rest of the way. UCR continued to push further, getting the Tiger lead to 57-56 after another Smith three-pointer and a Taylor Johns layup with 3:27 to play. Senior Travis Fulton responded with a big three-pointer on Pacific's next possession to get the lead back to 60-56, but Chris Patton countered for the Highlanders to make it 60-58 with just 1:29 to go. After a Tiger turnover, UCR's Josh Fox missed a jumper that would have evened the score. The Highlanders grabbed the offensive rebound, but a turnover gave it back to Pacific. Junior Sama Taku hit one of two free throws, giving Smith an opportunity to tie the game with a three-pointer. His attempt was defended well by the Tigers and was off the mark as McCloud grabbed the rebound. McCloud hit a pair of free throws to ice the victory.
McCloud led the Tigers with 17 points, while Fulton, Taku and junior Khalil Kelley each added nine points. Patton had 17 points to lead UCR.
UC Riverside hit 13 of its first 16 shots from the field in the second half, shooting 72.2% (13-18) in the final 20 minutes. The Highlanders shot 52.4% for the game, the second best opponent percentage on the season. Pacific shot 42.9% for the game, including 8-22 (36.4%) in the second half. The Tigers had 11 steals, the fourth time in the last six games the team has reached double figures in takeaways. Pacific had no double figure steals games in the first 13.
Pacific is next in action with a home game against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7:00 p.m.