Mar 16, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Pacific Tigers celebrate after the game against the UC Irvine Anteaters during the championship game of the Big West tournament at the Honda Center. The Pacific Tigers defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters 64-55. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
ANAHEIM - Reserve Tony Gill scored 19 points, Lorenzo McCloud added 16 and the University of the Pacific held off a second-half surge by UC Irvine to win the Big West Conference Tournament championship with a 64-55 victory Saturday night.
Pacific earned its ninth NCAA tournament berth, but first since 2006.
It will be the fifth appearance in the tournament for the Tigers under coach Bob Thomason, who is in his 25th and final season at the school.
Pacific (22-12) held an 11-point lead at halftime, but Irvine (20-15) rallied in the second half behind Daman Starring, who scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
A putback by Chris McNealy (12 points) got the Anteaters within 44-41 with 10:45 remaining, but that was as close as they would get. Irvine, bidding for its first NCAA berth, lost its fourth Big West title game.