Stockton, Calif. - Playing their final games at the Alex G. Spanos Center, the Tigers seniors, Eric Thompson and Alec Kobre, came up big for Pacific as they led the Tigers to a 79-70 win over San Francisco (USF) in the penultimate game of the 2015-16 season. Pacific (8-19) picked up its first win over USF (15-13) since rejoining the WCC prior to the 2013-14 season. The win for Pacific impvored its WCC record to 6-11 while the Dons fell to 8-9 in conference action.
Starting their final night in the Spanos Center off with a bang, the Tigers' seniors netted Pacific's first seven points of the game as Kobre hit a three from the corner and a midrange jumper to begin the Tiger scoring while Thompson dropped in a half hook off the glass. With their seniors scoring and the defense locked in, the Tigers would lead 7-1 at the first media timeout, holding the Dons to just one free throw in the opening four minutes of the game. USF would not get its first basket from the field until the 14:34 mark in the first half after finding themselves down eight to begin the contest.
Pacific would extend its lead to 10 midway through the half, but a rash of turnovers, two coming on offensive fouls, let the Dons hang close, cutting the lead back down to six before a D.J. Ursery three got the Tigers back on track. The Tigers would twice more lead by 10 in the half but in a matter of just three possessions, the Dons caught fire, hitting a pair of threes and scoring on four-straight possessions to cut Pacific's lead to just two at 26-24 with just under five minutes to play. Despite the run by the Dons the Tigers would hold their lead thanks to the persistent pressure applied by T.J. Wallace pushing to the rim and forcing the action before a three by Ilias Theodorou pushed the lead back to eight with 2:52 to play.
The Tigers would go nearly three minutes without a basket at the end of the half allowing the Dons to creep back into the game, but a layup by Thompson and a defensive stand at the other end held Pacific's lead at seven heading into the break.
Wallace would hit a pair of free throws out of the lockerroom to extend the lead back to nine, but the Dons would go on a 12-2 run to erase the Tigers' lead completely and take their first lead of the night with 16:35 to play. Despite the momentum shift, the Tigers would respond as Jacob Lampkin dropped in a layup and a free throw to put Pacific back on top. The two teams would trade shots from deep and the lead seven times in the span of just four minutes.
The Dons would go on a 6-0 run to take their largest lead of the night at 54-50 minutes later after Pacific turned the ball over three-straight possessions. Thompson would finally end the drought with a short jumper from 10-feet that kicked off a string of makes for the Tiger senior. Each time the Tigers would push, the Dons would answer by getting to every loose ball, holding Pacific at bay until a three from Kobre at the top of the arc with just over eight minutes to play made it just a one-point game at 60-59, USF. The Tigers would use the three to rally recapturing the lead on a pair of free throws from Thompson before a floater from Kobre and a layup by Thompson put Pacific back ahead by three with 6:53 to play.
The Tigers would hold their lead for nearly three minutes, but a handful of trips to the line by the Dons put USF back out front as the game neared the four-minute media timeout when Chase Foster hit four-straight from the line. Again, the teams would trade punches and the lead three times, but a third three-ball from Kobre proved to be the dagger the Tigers needed to finally put the Dons down for good as Pacific went ahead 72-68 with 2:38 to play. Two possessions later on a broken play, Ray Bowles would hit a huge three from the angle, giving Pacific the breathing room it needed to finish off the win. The Tigers would go on a 12-0 run to push the lead to 11 before a pair of free throws from Devin Watson with :28 seconds remaining ended the run and put the final margin at nine for the Tigers. Bowles would score six of the 12 for the Tigers in the final 3:37 of the contest.
In all, Thompson came up with a team-high 16 pionts on 7-of-8 shooting. He would add six rebounds and two blocks to his totals in 27 minutes of action. Kobre finished right behind his classmate in the scorebook with 15 points as he hit 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-5 from deep. Not to be left out, Theodorou dropped in a quiet 12 for the Tigers as the sophomore hit 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from behind the arc. The Tigers would finish the night shooting 51.0% (26-of-51) while making 7-of-18 from deep and 20-of-28 from the line.
For the Dons, Watson came up with a game-best 20 points after making 10-of-17 from the line to go with 4-of-15 shooting from the floor. Three other Dons would hit double-digits as Uche Ofoegbu scored 16 points in 35 minutes while Foster ended with 13 points and Derksen tallied 12 points to go with a game-high eight rebounds.
The Tigers will close out the season on Saturday, Feb. 27 on the road at Santa Clara where they will look for the season sweep of the Broncos. The game is scheduled for 6:00 pm.