March 17, 2005

(8) Pacific 79, (9) Pittsburgh 71 - Pitt Sucked!

BOISE, Idaho -- Pacific coach Bob Thomason described the Tigers' first half against Pittsburgh as nearly perfect.

The second half? Well, it was good enough.

The Tigers held off the Panthers 79-71 Thursday to advance in the Albuquerque Regional after letting a 15-point halftime lead dwindle to five in the final few minutes.

``I just thought we played a sensational first half,'' Thomason said.

Christian Maraker led Pacific with 17 points, coming back after hitting his head hard on the court in the first half and Mike Webb scored a career-high 15 points for Pacific (27-3).

The Tigers advanced to the second round for the second straight year, where they will face top-seeded Washington on Saturday.

``Being here last year and knowing what it takes to get a victory definitely helped this team. Hopefully it will help us in the next round on Saturday,'' said David Doubley, who scored 11 of his 17 in the second half for Pacific.

Webb hadn't scored more than 10 points since transferring from Antelope Valley College, but topped that by halftime after going 4-for-4 from 3-point range.

``I knocked down the first and the second and it just kept rolling after that,'' Webb said. ``I like the big games. Every player lives for that.''

Pacific was seeded No. 8 in the regional after losing to Utah State in the championship of the Big West tournament. Pittsburgh turned out to be a tough draw, thanks to Carl Krauser's 27 points, 25 of which came in the second half as the Panthers (20-9) furiously tried to make up for a dismal first half.

``We just dug too deep a hole in the first half,'' Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.

The Panthers had made the round of 16 the last three years, but couldn't recover from Pacific's 58 percent shooting in the first half. It took 19 hours Tuesday to reach Boise because of mechanical problems with the team charter, and the Panthers were erratic all game.

``We did lose a day of practice, but it still shouldn't have affected us because we had a good practice yesterday,'' Pitt senior Chevon Troutman said.

Krauser's five 3-pointers helped Pitt stay in it, but his total was more than double what any other Panther scored and the rally came up short.

Chris Taft had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Troutman and Antonio Graves scored 12 for the Panthers.

Troutman, who averaged more than 15 points this season, scored just three in the first half.

``Shots I usually make just weren't falling today. I may have been rushing it a little bit,'' Troutman said.

Nonetheless, Pittsburgh had a small chance in the end.

Krauser made two free throws with 3:43 remaining to get Pitt within 64-59, but that was as it would get. Doubley answered with two free throws, Maraker hit a crucial 3-pointer and fed a pass to Guillaume Yango for a dunk.

After going 15-for-26 from the field in the first half, Pacific was just 11-for-29 in the second, when the Tigers committed eight of their 12 turnovers but were still able to hang on.

``We were lucky to survive the first four minutes,'' Thomason said.

Maraker was perfect on his two 3-pointers in the first half despite missing a few minutes on the bench after slamming his head on the court when he got tangled up with one of the Panthers.

``I was out for a few seconds,'' said Maraker, who remained in the floor for a minute or two before going to the bench to let his head clear. ``It feels fine now and I just wanted to get back into the game and keep playing. We were playing so good in the first half, you just wanted to stay out there.''

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