UC Irvine 57, Pacific 56
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Michael Hunter scored 17 points Thursday to lead UC Irvine past Pacific 57-56 in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference tournament.
The Anteaters survived a late rally by the Tigers to advance to the semifinals where they will face top-seeded Santa Barbara (23-7) on Friday.
Pacific forward Bryan LeDuc made an off-balance shot in the lane with 16.7 seconds left cutting Irvine’s lead to 57-56.
Pacific head coach Bob Thomason called timeout and on Irvine’s next possession, the Tigers trapped and forced Irvine forward Patrick Sanders to turn the ball over.
Thomason called another timeout with 5.9 seconds remaining and Pacific guard C.J. Morgan missed a desperation jumper in the closing seconds to preserve the win for fifth-seeded Irvine (17-15).
Off Morgan’s miss, Pacific guard Michael Kirby tried to score on a putback but missed. Pacific thought Sanders touched the ball, which would have been goal tending, but the officials didn’t make the call after conferring for a few minutes.
Irvine forward Darren Fells had 11 points and 13 rebounds and Marcus McIntosh added nine.
Anthony Brown had 12 points and nine rebounds for fourth-seeded Pacific, which ends its season 21-10.
Pacific’s leading scorer and all-Big West first team selection Steffan Johnson’s 3-pointer with 2:43 remaining capped an 8-0 run, cutting Irvine’s lead to 55-53 and Casey Neimeyer’s shot off the glass trimmed the lead to 57-54.
Pacific played much of first half without Johnson, who logged just six minutes after picking up his third foul.