Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific men's basketball held on for a 70-62 home victory over UC Irvine on Thursday, March 7, 2013 in a Big West Conference game. With the win, Pacific improved to 18-12 on the season, 12-5 in league play. UC Irvine dropped to 17-14 overall and 10-7 in league action. Pacific has clinched the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the Big West Tournament next week in Anaheim.
Junior Sama Taku scored back-to-back baskets and senior Colin Beatty sank a three-pointer as the Tigers took a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Moments later, senior Travis Fulton scored four points in an 8-1 Pacific run that gave the Tigers a 15-3 lead with 14:44 to play in the half. The Anteaters cut it back to 10 (23-13), before the Tigers pushed ahead in a big way. Pacific used a 16-4 run to take a 39-17 lead with 1:47 to play in the half. A layup by Will Davis of UC Irvine capped the scoring in the half as Pacific led 39-19.
The Anteaters used a 14-2 run that spanned seven minutes at the end of the first half into the second half to cut the lead to 41-29 with 15:44 to play. After UCI cut it to 10 (45-35), the Tigers scored next five points on free throws from senior Rodrigo De Souza and junior Ross Rivera to build it back up to a 50-35 lead and 10:39 to play. The Anteaters then scored eight straight points with four free throws and a pair of dunks from John Ryan to get it to 50-43 with 8:23 left. The Anteaters missed their first 16 shots from three-point range, but hit three of their next four to cut it to one (59-58) with 2:48 to play in the game. Junior Tony Gill responded with a pair of layups to get lead back to 63-58 with 1:54 left. A layup from UCI's Alex Young made it 63-60, but four big free throws from Fulton and Taku extended the lead to 67-60 with :36 seconds left and Pacific held on from there.
Taku led the Tigers with 15 points, with McCloud scoring 14 and Gill adding 10 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Young had 13 points to lead UCI.
The Tigers shot 41.5% from the field, including just 6-20 (30.0%) in the second half. Pacific held a slim 37-36 advantage on the boards and had 10 steals in the game.
Pacific is next in action with a home game against Long Beach State on Saturday, March 9 at 4:00 p.m. It's Senior Night and Bob Thomason Appreciation Night in a game televised nationally by Fox Sports West.