Coach Bob Thomason waits for a referees decision during Saturday's game against Utah State. Pacific's win over Utah made Thomason the coach with more wins than any other basketball coach in the Big West Conference.
Thomason Takes Most Wins in Big West Conference
Bob Thomason passed Jerry Tarkanian for the most all-time wins in Big West Conference history, picking up win number 406, with Pacific's men's basketball team's second-half surge to defeat Utah State 65-57 on Saturday, Dec. 3 in the Spanos Center.
After falling behind early 4-0 to the Aggies, junior guard Colin Beatty put the Tigers on the board, making a deep three-pointer with 17:17 on the clock. Utah State sank a three to give them a 7-3 lead, almost three minutes after the Tigers got on the board. Sophomore Ross Rivera answered with a trey of his own to make it 7-6 with just over 14 minutes left in the first, marking the first time the Tigers had scored since Beatty's basket. Rivera sparked Pacific's offense as Beatty dropped in a jumper to give Pacific their first lead of the night with 13:50 left on the clock. Junior guard Lorenzo McCloud extended Pacific's run to 7-0 after going 2-for-2 from the line before a Utah State tied the game at 10-10 with three shots from the line by Preston Medlin.
Rivera ignited Pacific's offense yet again with a jumper from just inside the arc to give Pacific a 12-10 lead and triggered a 12-5 run that put the Tigers up by seven (22-15) with 6:03 remaining. Junior center Khalil Kelley highlighted the run with six of the 12 points with Rivera added four points. With 1:53 remaining on the clock, junior center Rundell Mauge made two consecutive jumpers to give the Tigers a 28-20 lead. After an Aggie layup, junior guard Markus Duran sank a shot-clock buzzer beating trey to give Pacific a 31-22 advantage going into the break.
Junior Lorenzo McCloud opened up the second half with a jumper and completed a three-point play to give the Tigers a 34-22 lead. Utah State's Kyisean Reed scored all points in an 11-4 Aggie run to cut the Tiger lead to 38-33 with 14:57 remaining in the game. Rivera highlighted yet another Pacific run, sinking four points in a 16-4 stretch that gave the Tigers a 17-point lead (54-37), their biggest of the night. The Aggies battled back, however, posting their own 16-5 run to bring Utah State to within six with 0:48 seconds left on the game clock. Pacific closed the game out from the line, putting the game out of reach by hitting five of six free throws as they held on for the win.
Rivera led the Tiger pack with 15 points. He was the fifth Pacific player to lead the team in scoring this year. Rivera was followed by McCloud's 14 points, six rebounds and six assists. McCloud went 10-12 from the free throw line and added six assists. Pacific's bench shined, outscoring USU's bench 26-13, though the Aggies held a 31-11 advantage in second chance points. The Tigers shot 85 percent from the free-throw line (17-20) and shot 38.2 percent from the field (21-55).
That win Saturday was the 406th victory for the men's basketball team under Thomason's command, making Thomason the coach in the Big West Conference with the most career wins overall. Pacific is back in action with a home game on Tuesday, December 6 against Hawai'i. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
A presentation acknowledging the landmark for Thomason tentatively will be held during the next Big West Conference game that Pacific's Men Team competes in, which will be against UC Irvine on Jan. 5 in the Alex G. Spanos Center.