Red-Hot Pacific Downs Islanders in Second Round of CIT

STOCKTON, Calif. – Pacific used a tremendous offensive effort to knock off the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team, 89-60, in the second round of the College Insider Tournament on Saturday night at the Spanos Center. Joy Williamson led the Islanders with 17 points in a losing effort in his final game as a college basketball player.

The Tigers (17-15) shot .583 from the field (35-for-60) and got a balanced scoring effort with four players in double figures. Sama Taku led the way with 15, while Tony Gill (14), Ross Rivera (13) and David Taylor (10) all finished in double figures as well. Pacific used its size to win the battle of the boards, 37-21, scoring 48 points in the paint in the process.

Zane Knowles scored nine points and nabbed five rebounds in his final game as an Islander, while Jeff Beverly added nine points. John Jordan was limited to just two points, but dished out eight assists to one turnover, giving him 177 dimes on the year, a new school record. He will enter his senior season needing just 20 assists to set a new career record for the Islanders.

A&M-Corpus Christi wraps up its 2013-14 campaign at 18-16, the second-largest improvement in wins in the nation. The team logged its first win in a postseason tournament with the victory over Northern Colorado on Wednesday, and posted a second-place finish in the Southland, second only to the 2006-07 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

"I was disappointed that we didn't have the energy on the defensive side of the ball and got beat in a lot of different areas," head coach Willis Wilson said. "I think stepping away from it, though, these guys made a major turnaround. Winning 18 games, to play as well as we did in conference play; we can walk away from this with our heads held high. Getting the first win in a postseason tournament was a major milestone.

"I'm really happy with the progress we made," he added, "but we're just at the beginning. We've got a long way to go and we've got a lot of progress ahead of us."

Early on, both teams went blow-for-blow, with both squads converting at a high rate. The Islanders buried each of their first three shots from distance, and held a 13-10 lead after Williamson converted a nice layup in traffic at the 14:02 mark. Pacific then embarked on a 10-2 run to pull ahead, 20-15 on a pair of free throws by Gabriel Aguirre.

The Islanders were able to cut it to three on a pair of occasions, but the Tigers responded with a three and a baseline drive from Thomas to build the lead to eight. Those two baskets sprung the home squad on a 17-4 run to push the lead to 41-23 with 2:05 left. The Islanders got back-to-back baskets from Brandon Pye to cut it to 13, but the Tigers finished the half on a 5-0 run, with Aguirre completing a three-point play for the exclamation point, sending it to the half 46-28.

Out of the locker room, the Islanders upped their play on the offensive end, but Pacific was able to counter every A&M-Corpus Christi jab with one of their own. Taku was the key catalyst early on, hitting his first three shots to score six of the first eight Pacific points as the home squad pushed its lead to 54-33.

At that juncture, the Islanders got back-to-back baskets to cut it to 17, but Pacific started to catch fire from distance, hitting three straight shots from downtown and capping it off with a Rivera three-point play and a two in traffic to push the lead to 27 using a 14-4 run. A&M-Corpus Christi ratcheted up the defensive pressure at the point, though, getting consistent stops to embark on a 7-0 run to cut the advantage back to 20.

The Islanders continued to battle, but Pacific made several key steals on the defensive end to push the lead back to 27. From there, the Tigers were able to push the lead all the way to 29, as the home squad closed out the 89-60 victory. 

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