Pacific Men's Basketball - Missouri State 78, Pacific 65 (CIT Final)
The Tiger men's basketball team dropped a 78-65 decision at Missouri State in the CollegeInisder.com Tournament championship game on Tuesday, March 30. The Tigers finish the season at 23-12, while the Bears improved to 24-12. Tiger senior Joe Ford (Altadena, Calif.) and junior Sam Willard (Pierre, S.D.) earned All-CIT honors.
A pair of layups in the opening minutes put the Tigers behind 4-0, as Missouri State took an early 10-4 lead. Trailing 12-7, junior Pat Eveland (San Diego, Calif.) ignited a 7-0 rally that gave Pacific a 14-12 lead with 12:33 to play in the first half. After a Missouri State basket, three-pointers from junior Demetrece Young (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and freshman Allen Huddleston (Merced, Calif.) gave the Tigers their biggest lead at 20-14 with 10:49 to go. The Bears responded with five points from Nafis Ricks in a 10-2 run to take a 24-22 lead less than three minutes later. Ford scored on a three point play to start and on a runner to cap a Tiger 8-1 spurt as they took a 30-25 lead with 3:16 to go in the half. The Tigers held a 35-29 halftime lead.
Missouri State scored the first six points of the second half to even the score at 35-35, but the Tigers bounced back out to a five point lead after another three-pointer by Young to make it 40-35. The Bears again cut it to one, but a 7-2 spurt by the Tigers took the lead to 50-44 with 11:09 to play. An 11-0 Missouri State run, capped by a steal and dunk by Jermaine Mallett gave the Bears a 55-50 lead with 9:01 to play, and they would not trail again. Willard ended the run with a three-pointer to cut it to 55-53. After a Ford free throw made it a 59-56 Missouri State advantage, the Bears used an 8-0 run to extend to a 67-56 lead with 3:33 left. The lead stay would stay in double digits during the final two minutes.
Young led the Tigers with 17 points, while Ford tied his career-high with 16 points. Willard finished with 10 points and 10 boards for his third double-double of the tournament. Huddleston also scored 10 for the Tigers. Missouri State out-shot the Tigers 60.0% to 37.0% in the second half, while outscoring Pacific 49-30 in the final 20 minutes.
"The tournament was a great experience, being able to travel and spend more time with my teammates," said Willard. "I just wish it wouldn't have ended with a loss."