Pacific Men's Basketball: Solid Effort On Both Ends Of The Floor Pushes Pacific Past Appalachian State, 64-56
Despite an arduous journey to Boone, N.C., and playing their third road contest of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the Pacific men's basketball team defeated Appalachian State, 64-56, on Thursday, March 25, to advance to the championship game. The win moved the Tigers to 23-11 overall on the year while the Mountaineers fell to 24-13. With the win the Tigers will take on Missouri State for the CIT championship on Tuesday, March 30 at a time yet to be determined.
Behind a huge first half, the Tigers were able to hold off a late run by the Mountaineers to hold on for their third straight road victory in the postseason tournament. The Tigers were able to build an impressive 19 point lead in the first half as they torched Appalachian State from all angles, shooting over 75 percent from the floor for much of the first half.
Pacific opened up the game in the hostile arena with a quick 11-2 run over the first led by junior Demetrece Young (Oklahoma City, Okla.) who netted five of the Tigers' first 11 points, including hitting the first of Pacific's four first half three pointers. Through the first eight minutes of the contest, the Tigers missed just three shots, going 9-for-12 from the floor to open up a 21-7 lead by the second media timeout.
Before the first half would close, the Tigers allowed the Mountaineers to climb back within 10 points twice in the half before pushing their lead to its largest mark of 19 on a second three-pointer by Young in the final second of the half. Junior Sam Willard (Pierre, S.D.) propelled the Tigers run to the break on the inside, taking advantage of openings on the outside of the paint to get off his jump shot, a move that opened up the middle later in the half for the post game. In the half, Willard posted 14 points against the Mountaineer defense.
Up 19 at the break, the Tigers used every bit of their first half cushion to hold off the Mountaineers in the second half as Appalachian State found its rhythm against Pacific's defense in the second half while the Tigers began to give away the ball on the offensive end. After holding Donald Sims, the Mountaineers top scorer coming into the game averaging just over 20 points a game, to just three points in the first half, the Tigers had no answer for the ever increasing range of Sims in the second frame. Despite being pushed out to well beyond the arc, Sims was able to net 19 points in the second half, hitting 4-of-7 from distance to claw the Mountaineers back into the game.
After keeping the Mountaineers at a distance for much of the second half, the Tigers finally let Appalachian State back with in single digits with 4:55 to play in the game when Pacific went nearly five minutes with out a field goal. The Mountaineers would climb to within five points just 30 seconds later, but a few solid defensive stands and a couple of offensive rebounds later the Tigers were able to push their lead back to double digits as the game neared its end. Despite not hitting their free-throws late, Pacific's dominance on the glass, 49-to-34, including a 16-7 offensive rebound advantage allowed the Tigers to hold off Appalachian State late. Ford was the biggest contributor on the boards for the Tigers as he posted 13 rebounds including six on the offensive glass.
Overall, Pacific outshot the Mountaineers, 38.7 percent (24-for-62) to 33.3 percent (19-for-57). In the end, the Tigers hit 12-of-21 free throws in the game while Appalachian State hit 9-of-14. Willard finished tied for the game high with 22 points while adding 10 rebounds. Sims also finished with 22 points.