An exciting back-and-forth Big West men’s basketball game turned into a heartbreaker for UCD at Pacific.
After six ties and 14 lead changes, the Tigers made a late run to defeat the Aggies, 70-66, at the Alex G. Spanos Center on Saturday.
Pacific (14-10, 6-5) went 6 -for-6 from the foul line in the final 20 seconds to seal the win over UCD (8-16, 3-9), which had a strong offensive night. The Aggies shot 51 percent (26-51) from the floor and 67 percent (10-15) from 3-point range in the loss.
UCD was led by Josh Ritchart, who tallied 17 points off the bench by making all six of his shots from the field including a perfect 5-of-5 effort from behind the arc. Joe Harden also recorded 17 points, but Mark Payne was the only other Aggie to reach double figures with 10 points.
“I’m really proud of our kids in terms of their resiliency,” said UCD head coach Gary Stewart. “(The game) was so disappointing, but in some ways it has to be encouraging. There are a lot of areas that if you make one or two plays, maybe the outcome is different. We still have time to get back and shore some things up.”
Sam Willard had a double-double for the Tigers, putting up 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds. Allen Huddleston had 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, with 11 of his points coming in the decisive second half. Nyika Williams also chipped in with 11 points and nine boards.
After an early 7-4 lead for Pacific, the Aggies rattled off a 9-2 spurt to go up 13-9 with 12:38 on the clock. There were two ties and five lead changes in the first 10 minutes, before UCD went on another 9-2 run to go up 24-18 with 7:09 remaining in the first half.
The six-point advantage with the largest lead for either team before intermission. The Tigers climbed back in the game behind Willard’s 14 first-half points but the Aggies stayed in front, heading into the locker room with a 32-30 lead.
UCD had its biggest lead of the game early in the second half, using a Harden jumper to take a 37-30 advantage with 18:13 on the clock. The Aggies led for the majority of the half, but Pacific used an 8-0 run, capped off by a Willard three, to take back the lead at 47-45.
There were four ties and nine lead changes in the final 10 minutes of the contest. UCD led 57-56 with 5:10 to go in the game, but the Aggies were held scoreless for nearly three minutes after that. Pacific, meanwhile, had six unanswered points to go up 62-57 with 2:30 left.
It was Eddie Miller who brought UCD back in the game from there. The junior hit a trey with the shot clock expiring and threw down a two-handed dunk to tie the score at 62-62, with 1:21 remaining.
Moments later, Williams hit two free throws to give Pacific the lead with 58 seconds on the clock. After an empty offensive trip, the Aggies were forced to foul. The Tigers made all their free throws in the final 20 seconds to secure the win.
“We shot the ball extremely well but we didn’t take care of the ball well enough in the second half to get enough attempts,” Stewart said. “We’ve got a nice situation set up for us now.
“We have the two games next week that we can use to make some adjustments. Then we got some some very important games coming up. We have to take care of business but its exciting because we have some things to play for.”
UCD will take a break from Big West play next week, first traveling to play Seattle on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m.