ANAHEIM, CA - A layup by Travis Fulton with 17.4 seconds remaining turned out to be the game winner as the Pacific Tigers slipped by UC Santa Barbara, 71-68, in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament at the Honda Center.
Fulton finished with 11 points for the second-seeded Tigers (20-12) who now move on to the semifinals on Friday against an opponent to be determined. Colin Beatty connected on 6-of-7 shots behind the 3-point line as he tallied a team-best 26 points and pulled down eight rebounds, followed by Lorenzo McCloud with 12 points, six boards and four assists.
The seventh-seeded Gauchos (11-20) were led by Michael Bryson who posted a game-high 29 points, hitting on 7-of-11 tries beyond the arc and all six attempts at the free-throw line. Taran Brown added 16 points and TJ Taylor 11 and five assists but Alan Williams, who entered the game leading the team in both scoring (17.6 ppg) and rebounding (10.7 rpg), was limited to just four points on 1-of-10 shooting before fouling out.
Pacific shot an impressive 57.7 percent from the floor in the first half, including a staggering 8-of-10 beyond the arc, eventually pushing the squad to a 19-point lead before holding a 40-25 edge at the break.
In the second half the Tigers dipped to only 9-of-27 (.333) shooting from the field, allowing UCSB to battle back and tie the score at 66-66 with under two minutes remaining. McCloud then converted 1-of-2 at the free-throw line and Fulton slipped in from the left baseline for a layup to make the score 69-66.
Following a dunk by Bryson with 11.8 seconds left in regulation, cutting the deficit to just a single point, 69-68, the game featured a few unusual twists. On the ensuing inbounds play McCloud was fouled along the sideline with 9.4 seconds to play, but he reacted by swinging his arm back and hitting Kyle Boswell in the head, resulting in a technical foul, a pair of free throws and possession for the Gauchos, but only after McCloud went to the charity stripe to shoot a couple of free throws.
McCloud failed to capitalize as he missed both attempts, opening the door for Boswell to give UCSB the lead, but he too missed two free throws. Again, trailing by a single point, the Gauchos got one more look for a possible game winner, but Bryson missed a 3-pointer from the right wing. Beatty knocked down a couple of shots at the stripe with 0.6 seconds to play in order to give Pacific a little breathing room.
In a game that featured six ties and four lead changes, Pacific survived with a 26-14 scoring edge in the paint.
The Sports Network