Provo, Utah - Pulling off the biggest upset of the season in the WCC, the Tigers' stunned the BYU Cougars and 16,069 fans at the Marriott Center with a hard-fought, 77-72, win on Saturday afternoon. For Pacific (7-15) the win gave the Tigers their fifth win in WCC play passing last season's win total. The win also snapped the Cougars' (17-8) 17-game home winning streak as they suffered their first loss of the year in the Marriott Center while falling to 8-4 in WCC action.
Facing a hostile crowd and staring them down, the Tigers were able to take the win thanks to making a season-best 25 of 29 free throws including knocking down 15 of 16 in the final minutes to pull off the shocker. For Pacific, the made free throws shook off a monkey on their backs that had plagued them in the previous two weeks as they just missed upsets of both Gonzaga and Saint Mary's in large part to missed free throws.
A breakneck pace early in the game saw the two teams trading punches with the Tigers hitting a pair of threes to stay with BYU after a pair of mistakes let the Cougars jump out to an early seven-point advantage. Despite the lead, the Tigers continued the onslaught from deep, hitting four of their first six from distance including a three from the corner from Ilias Theodorou that knotted the game up at 18-18 with just over 12 minutes to play.
A three by Alec Kobre, his second of the game, would give Pacific back the lead moments later at 21-20 with 10:44 to play after Kyle Collinsworth broke the tie the previous possession with a layup up the middle. Pacific would miss a pair of chances to build upon its lead as another Kobre three rattled out and a turnover led to a Chase Fischer three on the other end flipping the advantage back to the Cougars. The Tigers would get a second chance moments later as a hook from Tonko Vuko tied the game with just under eight to play before a deep three in the likes of Steph Curry from Kobre put Pacific ahead 26-23 just before the third media.
With their shooters taking a breather, the Tigers used their toughness in the lane to take back the lead from the Cougars after momentarily losing it when T.J. Wallace laid one high off the glass with his right hand. David Taylor followed with a layup off a BYU turnover to put Pacific up three with 3:21 to play before a pair of missed three's by the Tigers gave BYU an opportunity that they converted as Fischer hit a second three to put BYU back up with 2:22 to play. He would drill another three one minute later to flip the lead back to the Cougars after Wallace had hit a pair of free throws that snapped a nearly two-minute scoring drought. The Fischer three would be the last basket of the half for either team as BYU would take a two point lead into the break.
Out of the break, the Tigers would tie the game a pair of times but a quick spurt by the Cougars thanks to a deep three by Jakob Hartsock made it a five-point game in favor of BYU just three minutes into the new half. The Cougars were able to take advantage of a 12-3 advantage on the glass through the first five minutes of play to keep Pacific at bay until a big three from Wallace at the top off a double-team of Sami Eleraky got the Tigers right back to within one.
With the Cougars mired in a shooting drought, the Tigers finally took back the lead with two free throws from D.J. Ursery that put Pacific ahead 49-48 with 10:45 to play in the game. From there, the two sides would trade baskets as BYU jumped ahead by three with Pacific fighting to battle back. The lead would change hands five times in the next five minutes before Ray Bowles gave Pacific a three-point advantage with 4:38 to play hitting four of five from the line in two different trips.
The lead would be short lived as Pacific fouled Nick Emery as he was shooting a three, allowing the freshman to tie the game from the line before Collinsworth put the Cougars back ahead moments later by hitting one of two from the line. Not to be denied, the Tigers went back to their bread and butter as Wallace drained a three from the top of the key on the next possession, putting Pacific ahead 62-60 with 3:30 to go. He would make it a Tiger four-point game with two free throws on the next possession.
From there, the game became a free throw shooting contest down the stretch as Pacific kept the Cougars at arm's length knocking down 15 of 16 from the line over the final 3:30 of the game while BYU was 10 of 14 from the line.
In all, Wallace led the way at the line hitting 7 of 8 and Ursery going 6 of 6 down the stretch to finish with nine points. Wallace would end his day with 15 points to go with six rebounds and three assists. Kobre would lead the team in scoring for the fourth-straight game with 17 points hitting three threes and going a perfect 4 of 4 from the line. Eric Thompson finished his day with eight points and eight rebounds while also coming up with three huge blocks in the second half as Pacific locked down the Cougars offensively, holding them to 23.3% shooting in the half and 33.9% shooting overall.
Fischer would end the game with a contest-best 23 points after going 14 of 14 from the stripe including making 10-straight in the final minute of the game to force Pacific into making its free throws. Davis would finish with 21 points while Emery chipped in 13. Collinsworth ended his day with nine points and a game-best 12 rebounds. As a team, the Cougars made 27 of 35 from the line.
The loss for the Cougars was their first of the year when leading at the half. The win was the first for the Tigers' in Provo and the Marriott Center since the 1996 season when Pacific defeated the Cougars 80-58.
The Tigers return to the Spanos Center on Thursday, Feb. 11 when they take on Loyola Marymount at 7:00 pm. Pacific will be hosting its annual Military Appreciation Night in which all active and retired military personal will receive free admission to the contest. In addition, the Tigers will be raising money for the Alpha K9 Program out of Sacramento, Calif. that trains dogs for returning vets who are suffering from PTSD and other combat related ailments.