Tigers Fall To Racers In CIT Semis
The Pacific men’s basketball team’s first season under Head Coach Ron Verlin surprised everyone by lasting much longer than expected. However, the season finally came to an end in the semifinals of the 2014 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) on Tuesday, April 1 when the Tigers were outpaced by Murray State, 98-75.
“It was a tough way to finish the season. We were playing some of our best basketball of the year in the CIT. We will take this experience forward into next year, with some of the younger guys gaining valuable playing time,” Verlin told the media afterwards.
David Taylor ’17 led the Tigers with 18 points. Seniors Tim Thomas ‘14 and Khalil Kelley ‘14 each recorded double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively, in their final collegiate game.
The action was back-and-forth from the get-go. Pacific established itself in the paint early, with Kelley scoring two quick baskets and Gabriel Aguirre ’15 giving the Tigers an early 7-6 lead.
Pacific answered a Murray State charge with an 8-1 run capped off by free throws from Taylor. Back-to-back three-pointers from Aaron Short ’15 and Andrew Bock ’14 stretched the lead to 26-21, with under eight minutes left in the half.
However, the Racers soon began to get going. Two free throws from Bock were answered by a 7-0 run from the Racers. Murray State’s Cameron Payne scored eight of his team’s next ten points, and the Racers found themselves with a 40-34 lead. A 9-0 Murray State run in the last two minutes put the Tigers in a 49-38 halftime deficit.
Needing a good start to the second half, Pacific got exactly the opposite in the form of a 9-0 Murray State run. Though a jumper from Ross Rivera ’14 attempted to stop the bleeding, a three-pointer from the Racers made the score 61-40, with less than two and a half minutes in the second half. From there, it was academic, as the Tigers just simply had too big of a mountain to climb.
Pacific finishes its first season back in the West Coast Conference with an 18-16 overall record and a semifinal berth in a postseason tournament. Murray State will play host to Yale in the CIT championship game on Thursday, April 3.
In all three times the Tigers participated in the CIT, they have reached at least the semifinal round. Pacific made it to the 2010 CIT championship but lost to Missouri State.
Pacific’s quarterfinal win over San Diego on March 26 was the Tigers’ eighth CIT win in history, a tournament record.