The Pacific Tigers visit McKeon Pavillion to face off against the St. Mary’s Gaels in WCC hoops action Saturday night at 8PM.
Pacific has seen their solid early start to the year come to a quick halt as they have fallen to 10-6 overall and sit at a lowly 1-4 in the conference. After losing four close games to kick off conference play, the Tigers finally got in the win column with an 80-68 victory over Santa Clara. The Tigers doubled up a four point halftime lead in the second to pull away from Santa Clara -- Pacific was led by Andrew Bock but the x-factor for the Tigers was the bench play of guard Sama Taku who scored 19 points on 7-13 shooting and added 4 assists. Consistent play from Taku will be key if the Tigers want to try and crawl back in the conference race.
St. Mary’s moved above .500 in conference play this week with a convincing win over San Francisco 88-73. St. Mary’s entire starting five scored in double figures and they still won comfortably despite little assistance from the reserves. Stephen Holt led the way with 22, 5 boards and 5 assists and the Gaels shot 55% from the floor and knocked down 11-21 from behind the arc. St. Mary’s guards facilitated the offense well all night and the Gaels finished with 17 team assists to just 6 turnovers -- efficient play like this on offense makes the Gaels one of the more dangerous teams in conference given their depth and experience.
St. Mary’s and Pacific kicked off conference play with a solid game at Pacific that St. Mary’s stole late. With home court being very important, I am going to have to go with the Gaels, who were able to win in a hostile environment the first time these teams met. Look for Stephen Holt to shine in this one with another big scoring outing and the St. Mary’s bench to be the difference maker alongside the home crowd as the Gaels get the cover.