Spokane, Wash. - Opening their final weekend-long roadtrip, the Tigers dropped their Thursday night contest with Gonzaga, 90-68, at the McCarthey Center. Pacific (7-18) fell to 5-10 in WCC play while Gonzaga (21-6) held on to its standing at the top of the WCC at 13-2.
A 7-0 run over just under a minute and a half worth of clock in the opening minutes of the game put the Tigers out front of the Zags early in the first half after the Bulldogs took a quick 7-2 lead to start the night. However, just as the Tigers grabbed the early momentum, the Zags took advantage of mounting foul trouble against Pacific's bigs that took away the Tigers' depth advantage to recapture control of the early goings. They would use a 9-3 run over the next four minutes of play to go ahead by four at 16-12 with 11:52 to go in the half.
The lead would extend to six for the Zags as Pacific went nearly 4:00 minutes on the clock without a basket before Eric Thompson muscled his way into the middle and tossed up a half hook off the glass to get the Tigers back on the board. Even after the Thompson basket, Gonzaga continued to push, swelling their lead to 10 before Pacific's offense would reawaken. However, just a the Tigers got going so too did the Zags from deep as they hit three-straight from behind the arc. They would hit a pair of free throws on the next possession to make it a 15-point lead before the Tigers got a spurt from Ray Bowles who would hit a layup and a three around Thompson free throws to cut the deficit to single digits. At the half, the Zags would lead by 12 as Kyle Dranginis took a missed Tiger free throw the length of the floor for a layup at the buzzer to make it a 44-32 GU lead.
In all, the Tigers would get 10 first half points out of Thompson who was locked in a battle all half with Sabonis who closed out the opening 20 minutes with 15 points.
In the second half, without their coach and in serious foul trouble, the Tigers saw the Zags pull away as Kyle Wiltjer caught fire and Sabonis took control of the paint. In a span of just five minutes, the duo for the Zags scored 20 points with Wiltjer accounting for 14 of the 20. Pacific attempted to keep pace with the lead growing to 21 as Alec Kobre and Ray Bowles kept firing away but the momentum proved to be too far gone.
For the half, the Bulldogs would push their lead to as much as 28 before settling on the final margin of victory. Pacific was led by Kobre for the seventh time in the last nine contests as the senior netted 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Bowles would score 11 points and grab three rebounds while Thompson ended with 11 points and just four rebounds as fouls zapped him of his effectiveness in the second half.
Wiltjer finished the contest with a game-high 26 points, 19 of which came in the second half, as the senior hit 3-of-5 from deep and 6-of-10 from the floor in the final 20 minutes of action. Sabonis, after his 15 in the first half, added eight more in the second half to close with 23 points and 10 rebounds. The Zags would put a third in double-figures in Silas Melson who netted 12 points.
Pacific would shoot 46.6% from the floor in the contest while the Zags shot 50.9% including going 9-of-19 from deep. The Bulldogs also held an edge at the line where they shot 25-of-29 to Pacific's 8-of-14.
The Tigers will look to regroup on Saturday, Feb. 20, when they head to Portland to take on a Pilots team who fell on a buzzer-beater to Saint Mary's in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday night. The game is scheduled for 7:00 pm due to regional television.