GAME NOTES: The Pacific Tigers continue their season-long four-game road trip on Thursday night, as they venture to Firestone Fieldhouse for a West Coast Conference clash with the Pepperdine Waves.
Pacific opened up its road swing with a loss at BYU on Jan. 30 (88-78) and a win at San Diego last Saturday (84-67) to improve to 3-5 away from home. The Tigers are sitting at a solid 12-9 overall this season but have won just three of their 10 WCC games.
Pepperdine is saddled with a similar overall record as Pacific (13-10), but it has fared much better in league action, going 6-5. The Waves had been losers of three of four prior to their most recent 80-69 triumph at home versus Loyola Marymount, as they improved to 7-3 at Firestone Fieldhouse.
The Tigers won in Stockton in the first meeting this season, 76-66, to extend their lead in the all-time series to 31-25.
The Tigers cruised to an outstanding 17-point victory on the road over the weekend by shooting a lofty 54.7 percent from the field (including 8-of-15 from 3-point range), winning the rebounding battle (34-22) and outscoring San Diego in the paint (34-12). Leading the way with 16 points apiece were Andrew Bock and Trevin Harris, with Bock making all but one of his eight free-throw attempts and Harris shooting 6-of-7 from the field. Tony Gill added 15 points to the winning effort, while Ross Rivera came off the bench to tally 11 points.
Pacific has been stellar on the offensive end of the floor this season, shooting 45.2 percent from the field for 75.6 ppg, but its problem has been allowing its opponents to put up nearly identical numbers (.456, 75.4 ppg). Bock paces the squad with 12.2 ppg, draining 86.3 percent of his nearly six free throws per game. Sama Taku scores 11.8 ppg but on just 40.4 percent from the field. Gill (11.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) has made 41.1 percent of his 3-point tries and Rivera brings 9.8 ppg in mostly a reserve role.
After fighting back and forth between 12 ties and 12 lead changes, Pepperdine finally put Loyola away in its most recent game down the stretch, finishing the contest on a 16-3 run to capture the 11-point win. The team shot 47 percent from the floor and was led by 16 points from Malcolm Brooks. Jett Raines (15 points) and Brendan Lane (10) both had eight rebounds, Stacy Davis and Nikolas Skouen put up 12 and 10 points, respectively, and Jeremy Major got the variety of scorers involved with eight assists.
Like Pacific, the Waves just barely outpace their opponents this season, shooting 46.3 percent from the field for 72.0 ppg while allowing 71.3 ppg on the opposite end of the floor. Their strength comes in the frontcourt. Davis puts up 14.6 ppg and 7.7 rpg, while Lane (13.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg) shoots 56.8 percent from the floor and blocks 2.4 shots per contest. Major (10.5 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Brooks (10.2 ppg) do their damage from the backcourt, draining a combined 56 3-pointers at greater than a 42 percent clip.
In an otherwise evenly-matched game, expect Pepperdine to take advantage of its home court setting.
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