Men’s basketball pulls off huge upset
It is no secret that the Pacific men’s basketball team had a season full of trials and tribulations. Facing self-imposed sanctions due to inquiries into NCAA violations, the Tigers were at a disadvantage from the start. Other teams might have thrown in the towel and given minimum effort, especially during the last month of the season. But what did the Tigers do on Feb. 6, playing on the road against a BYU team that had not lost a home game all year? Only pull off the biggest upset in the conference of the season.
That’s right, the Pacific men’s basketball team, which had a record of 7-15, entered the den of the BYU Cougars, 17-8, and emerged with a 77-72 victory. The heavily favored Cougars suffered their first home loss of the season, which also resulted in the team’s 17-game win streak at the Marriott Center coming to an end.
In a game that featured 17 different lead changes throughout, the Tigers left it all on the court in front of a crowd of just over 16,000 enthusiastic Cougar fans. Pacific proved that Tiger blood runs ice cold as they made 18 of 19 free throws down the stretch to hang on for the victory.
“It couldn’t have been any better, the way that game played out,” Pacific Head Coach Mike Burns told his team after the win, as captured by Pacific Athletic Relations. “It was an absolute team win.”
Indeed, the Tigers received valuable contributions from a number of players. Guard Alec Kobre ’16 led the team with 17 points and also brought down three rebounds. Guard T.J. Wallace ’17 kept up his usual consistency, posting 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.
It was Pacific’s defense, however, that really stole the show. Wallace led the team with three steals, and power forward Eric Thompson ’16 let out the beast with three highlight-reel blocks, in addition to eight points and eight boards. Thompson’s final block came with two minutes left in the game, as BYU’s Nick Emery attempted a layup that would have cut Pacific’s lead to four. Instead, Thompson chased Emery down from behind and denied the shot.
The Tigers held the Cougars to just 23 percent shooting from the field in the second half, and that lockdown defense earned them praise from the opposition. “They have really talented, individual guys that are tough matchups for us. They guarded us really well,” BYU Head Coach David Rose told the media following the game.
Without any shot of competing in postseason play at that point and seemingly little motivation, the team proved that having a little Tiger pride always carries with it the potential to shock the country. Combine that pride with Head Coach Damon Stoudamire, who was recently brought in to revitalize the program, and there is no telling what this group can accomplish next year and beyond.
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