Pacific wins Big West title
Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) – Big West player of the year Christian Maraker
posted 23 points and 11 rebounds as top-seeded Pacific downed third-seeded
Long Beach State, 78-70, to win the Big West Conference Tournament title.
Johnny Gray scored 21 points, while Michael White had 11 for the Tigers
(24-7), who advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.
Steffan Johnson added 10 points.
Shawn Hawkins scored a career-high 27 points, while Aaron Nixon scored 17 for
the 49ers (18-12), who reached the conference finals for the first
time since 1995. Mark Dawson scored seven points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
Gray converted four straight free throws to give Pacific a 10-point lead with
40.7 seconds left, and Louis Darby scored a layup with 4.2 seconds on the
clock for the final margin.
Trailing 16-12, Pacific exploded on a 30-12 run capped by a Gray trey with
2:38 to take a 42-28 lead. Long Beach State finished the first half on an 8-0
run in the final two minutes, however, to cut its deficit to 42-36 at
Long Beach State took off on a 19-9 run capped by a trey by Nixon with 13:06
remaining to lead 55-53.
Pacific responded with a 17-7 spurt capped by a Maraker free throw
with 5:25 left for a 70-62 lead.
Nixon answered with a trey with 3:41 left and a free throw with 2:27 on the
clock, but after two White layups, Pacific led 74-68 with just under two
Pacific won its fourth Big West Conference Tournament title. The Tigers have
won 14 of 15 games…Long Beach State finished the regular season as the top
offensive squad in the Big West, scoring a whopping 83.7 ppg…Pacific won
the 2004 conference tournament, and last year received an at-large bid to the
NCAA Tournament after falling to Utah State in the conference finals. The
Tigers were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament both years.