No. 19 Pacific 75, Cal State Northridge 61

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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP)—A swarm of kids lined up to meet Tyler Newton before Pacific’s backup forward disappeared into the locker room after another big night.

The Tigers have taken this tight-knit town by storm with their national ranking and 19-game winning streak—and it seems just about everybody has been absorbed by the team’s success.

Newton and Christian Maraker each scored 15 points, and No. 19 Pacific made four straight 3-pointers during a key second-half stretch to defeat Cal State Northridge 75-61 Saturday night for its 19th straight victory.

“We fed off the hype,” Pacific guard Johnny Gray said. “We have to come out every night and show the nation what we’ve got, to show people that we’re good. There’s still some doubters out there.”

Gray shot 4-for-7 from long range on the way to 14 points, and David Doubley added 10 points and four assists.

Maraker overcame a slow start and hit two key 3s in the second half that helped Pacific pull away.

The Tigers (23-2, 16-0 Big West) snapped Cal State Northridge’s three-game winning streak in front of a raucous crowd at the sold out Spanos Center, which made an additional 200 standing-room only tickets available in the 6,150-seat arena for the team’s second nationally televised game in a week.

Pacific beat UTEP at home 73-66 a week earlier.

“This is a great way for us to end our homestand,” coach Bob Thomason said. “The crowd really generated a lot for us. To be 23-2, to finish off with two sellout crowds and two big wins at home, that’s what this team is all about.”

The Tigers have stayed unbeaten since mid-December thanks to a balanced offensive attack that features a new star each night. Their winning streak is the second-longest in the nation behind No. 1 Illinois (28-0)—and this win was extra special for seven seniors, who were honored along with family members with flowers and video tributes before their final home game.

Newton was one of those seniors.

“Tyler Newton stepped up big time,” Maraker said. “We have a lot of guys who have stepped up and made things happen like that all year.”

Davin White scored 11 of his 17 points in the first half and also added four assists for the Matadors (15-11, 11-5), who had won six of seven since a 66-62 loss to Pacific on Jan. 27. Joseph Frazier added 12 points.

“If you look at the teams that are successful, like that team is, it’s because they have four or five guys who can score and hurt you in different ways,” Northridge coach Bobby Braswell said. “They play a style of basketball that is very unselfish. It’s almost like you have to pick your poison with them.”

Pacific came out inspired after halftime, using a 7-0 spurt to build a 41-35 lead with 16:39 to play. The Tigers did a better job moving the ball against Northridge’s in-your-face, extended zone defense.

Maraker, averaging 13.9 points coming in, didn’t have a basket until 5:30 remaining in the first half and only took two shots before halftime.

His 3-pointer with 12:31 left gave Pacific a 46-40 lead, but Eto Onyenegecha answered with a 3 on the other end moments later. The Tigers converted 9 of 10 free throws in the final 4:02.

Pacific already clinched its second straight Big West Conference championship and, after road games next week at Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside, will be the top seed in the conference tournament March 11-12 in Anaheim.

The Tigers beat Northridge for the fifth straight time, and fifth in a row at home for a 9-2 lead in the overall series. The Matadors are winless in five meetings in Stockton.

Pacific used a 9-0 run late in the first half to turn a 20-15 deficit into a 24-20 lead on Gray’s 3-pointer 5:05 before halftime. Gray hit two more 3s in the half, but the Tigers trailed 35-34 at the break despite shooting 58.3 percent to 46.7 for Northridge.

The Tigers got 17 first-half points from their bench against an aggressive Northridge team, which pounded the ball inside to get easy shots, went hard to the boards and jumped into the passing lanes whenever possible.

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