Pacific Wins Nailbiter Over San Diego


In an ugly game that featured poor shooting by both teams, the Pacific Tigers survived a very tight game to defeat the San Diego Toreros 59-57 on Saturday night in Stockton. Cold shooting by both teams led to a back-and-forth affair with multiple lead changes all the way down to the final seconds where the Toreros had multiple attempts to take the lead but were thwarted by strong defense from the Tigers.

November 28, 2014; Fullerton, CA, USA; San Diego Toreros guard Johnny Dee (1) moves the ball up court against Princeton Tigers during the first half at Titan Gym. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Pacific pulled ahead 11-1 thanks to an 0 for 9 shooting start by San Diego, the Toreros got hot and sparked a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 11-10 midway through the first half. The game stay closed the rest of the way as the teams traded leads. The Toreros tried to pull away midway through the second half, but a 7-0 run by the Tigers took back momentum.

After Johnny Dee and T.J. Wallace trade free throws, the Tigers led 58-57 after the 13th lead change of the game with 40 seconds left. The Toreros had multiple chances to take the lead, but the Pacific defense was too much to handle. A Dee three point attempt was blocked leading to a shot clock violation. After the Tigers were fouled and hit one of two free throws, the Toreros had another shot to tie or take the lead. But a last second three point attempt by Duda Sanadze was blocked by Eric Thompson to secure a win for Pacific. It was the 8th block of the game for the Tigers, a season-high.

Both teams struggled offensively throughout the game. The Tigers shot 39% from field goal range and 38.5% from three point range. They were poor numbers that won’t win many games, but luckily the Toreros were even worse. They shot 29.2% from field goal range and an abysmal 4-25 from three point range, a 16% clip. Neither team is that highly regarded defensively, so this was more a reflection of their shooting struggles than a strong defensive effort. San Diego is last in the West Coast Conference in both field goal and three point shooting percentage, and the Tigers are in the bottom half of the conference as well.

Dee led San Diego with 20 points, but he was not immune to the shooting struggled. He was just 4-21 from the field but made up for it being a perfect 13-13 on his free throws. Dee is first in the WCC in free throw percentage and 18th in the nation after finishing 1st in the nation last year. Marcus Harris and Brandon Perry were next on the team with 9 points each. They got additional playing time thanks to the struggles of the starters ahead of them. Chris Anderson was in foul trouble giving time to Harris, and Perry continues to see more minutes as Jito Kok has been limited the past couple games. No word on if this injury-related or a coach’s decision.

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Wallace led Pacific with a game-high 22 points. He was joined in double figures by Ray Bowles who had 12 points. Like Dee, they also did most of their damage at the free throw line. Wallace hit 10 free throws while Bowles hit 6 free throws. Eric Thompson had a strong night inside with a game-high 11 rebounds and 5 blocks, but he finished with no points. Wallace filled up the stat sheet with 7 rebounds and 4 assists along with his game-high in points.

The Tigers improve to 10-9 overall and 2-5 in WCC play. They snap a three game losing streak. The Toreros drop to 9-11 overall and 2-6 in WCC play. They have lost three in a row. Pacific has now beaten San Diego in three of their last four meetings. The Tigers took two of three from the Toreros last year including knocking them out of the CIT Tournament in the quarterfinals.

San Diego returns home for a three game homestand starting next Saturday versus BYU. Pacific embarks on a two game road trip visiting Portland on Thursday and #3 Gonzaga on Saturday.