San Francisco, Calif. - The Pacific men's basketball team fell 64-59 at San Francisco on Saturday, February 22. With the loss, the Tigers dropped to 14-13 overall and 5-11 in West Coast Conference action. San Francisco improved to 18-10 and 11-5 in WCC play.
"We played good defense for most of the game, but really need to improve on our offensive efficiency," said Pacific Head Coach Ron Verlin. "We had a very strong run at the beginning of the second half to get back in and grab the lead. This will be a very important week, getting ready for our final two home games and Gonzaga on Thursday night."
The Tigers trailed 8-2 in the first five minutes, as senior Khalil Kelley scored the team's lone basket in its first five shots from the field. Junior Aaron Short hit a three-pointer to cap a 9-3 run as Pacific evened it up at 11-11with 12:10 to play in the half. Pacific missed three-point attempts on its next three possessions, while the Dons scored each time to build the lead back up to six (17-11). After the Tigers made it 19-15 following a pair of free throws from senior Sama Taku, the Dons used a 9-2 run to take a 28-17 lead with 5:28 to play in the half. Senior Trevin Harris and Kelley scored to knock it down to four (28-21) with 4:26 to play, but the Tigers didn't score again the rest of the half to trail 33-21.
In the early moments of the second half, the Dons took their largest lead of the game (34-21), but the Tigers then used a 13-0 run to square it back up at 34-34 with 15:29 to play. Harris hit a pair of three-pointers and a free throw in the run, while junior Gabriel Aguirre scored on a pair of inside baskets to close out the run. The teams then traded the lead back and forth, with neither team getting a bigger lead than three until the final seconds. There were 10 ties and 10 lead changes in the second half. The Tigers took their first lead of the game on a pair of free throws by Aguirre 47-45 with 8:25 left in the game. Taku scored on back-to-back possessions for the Tigers and Kelley had a dunk to give Pacific its final lead of the game at 55-54 with 3:55 to play. Avry Holmes of the Dons hit a three-pointer to switch it back to a two-point USF lead with 2:30 remaining, the only trey of the second half for the Dons. Taku evened it up with a layup, but Cole Dickerson scored on a layup and Holmes had a free throw to make it 60-57 with :40 to go. Harris hit a jumper to pull the Tigers within one, but Holmes hit another pair of free throws. Senior Tony Gill missed a three-pointer with :13 left and the Dons hit a pair of free throws to close it out.
Harris led the Tigers with 15 points, 13 in the second half. Taku added 14 points. The Tigers shot 40.7% from the field, but were 15 of 30 in the second half (50.0%). Pacific was 7-8 (87.5%) from the free throw line, while the Dons were 17-29 (58.6%).
The Tigers are next in action with a home game against No. 24 Gonzaga on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:00 p.m. The game will be carried by ESPNU.