Pacific Men's Basketball - Pacific 57, UC Riverside 51
The Pacific men's basketball team held on for a 57-51 win at UC Riverside on Thursday, Feb. 24. With the victory, Pacific improved to 16-11 and 8-5 in Big West Conference play. The Highlanders dropped to 9-17 overall, 4-9 in league play.
The Tigers scored six straight points after falling behind 3-0, as senior Sam Willard (Pierre, S.D.) scored four straight points to cap the 6-0 stretch. The Tigers took a 13-8 lead with 13:30 to play in the first 20 minutes, but the Highlanders responded with a 12-5 run over the next six minutes to take a 20-18 lead. Junior Jose Rivera (Brentwood, Calif.) switched it back to Pacific's favor with a top of the key three-pointer with a free throw from freshman Khalil Kelley (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) giving the Tigers a 22-20 edge with 5:58 to play. With the scored knotted at 22-22, Pacific received five straight points from sophomore Allen Huddleston (Merced, Calif.), who started an 11-2 run to give Pacific a nine point edge with :47 to play in the half.
A three-pointer by Huddleston on the first possession of the second half gave the Tigers their first double digit lead (36-26). Huddleston hit another trey and Willard added a jumper to give Pacific its largest lead of the game (41-28) with 15:37 to play. A quick 9-0 run over the next two minutes gave the Highlanders a boost, as they turned it back into close game (41-37) with 13:43 to go. Three points from Willard and another three-pointer from Huddleston gave the Tigers a 10-point lead again (47-37) nearing the midpoint of the second half, but the lead would fall under double digits the rest of the way. The Tigers went scoreless for five minutes, but UCR couldn't take full advantage, as the Highlanders cut the lead to four (47-43) with 6:34 to play. The Tigers scored four straight, as Willard knocked down a pair of free throws and Huddleston fed senior Terrell Smith (Federal Way, Wash.) for a dunk after a steal to get the lead back to eight. Three-pointers from UCR's Phil Martin and Javon Borum sandwiched another trey from Huddleston and it was a 54-49 Tiger lead with 4:53 to play. The defense picked up again, as neither team scored for nearly the next four minutes. Senior Pat Eveland (San Diego, Calif.) hit a three-pointer with 1:05 to play to make it 57-49. Elliott Berry scored on a layup with :23 to play, but missed a pair shots in the closing seconds as the Tigers held on for the win.
Huddleston led the Tigers with a career second best 22 points, and is averaging 22.5 points per game against the Highlanders this season. "I felt good shooting the ball tonight," said Huddleston. "Fortunately I was able to knock down a few shots." Willard was the only other Tiger in double figures, scoring 17 points. Eveland led Pacific with 10 rebounds, as the team held a 39-29 rebounding advantage. The Tigers shot 42.9 percent from the field and held the Highlanders to 35.7 shooting for the game.
The Tigers are next in action at UC Irvine on Saturday, Feb. 26. The original game time has been changed to a 5:30 p.m. start for a Fox Sports West telecast.