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COLLEGE BASKETBALL * BIG WEST TOURNAMENTS

Pacific Advances to Face UC Irvine

March 09, 2001|LON EUBANKS

Pacific stopped UC Santa Barbara's six-game domination of the Tigers with a 71-69 overtime victory in the opening round of the Big West Conference men's basketball tournament Thursday night at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Peter Heizer and David Bunts sank consecutive three-point shots in the overtime to spark Pacific's victory. The Tigers' Mike Preston also made two clutch free throws with 14 seconds left.

Pacific (17-11) will play top-seeded UC Irvine tonight in the second semifinal game, 30 minutes after the completion of the Utah State-Boise State game that begins at 6 p.m.

The UCSB-Pacific game turned into a free-throw contest in the final three minutes of regulation.

The score was tied at 54-54 with 2:41 left after a three-pointer by Pacific's Maurice McLemore. Then Mike Hahn made two free throws for a two-point Pacific lead.

The Gauchos' Branduinn Fullove had a chance to tie it with slightly more than a minute left, but he made only one of two at the line. Then Heizer dropped in two more free throws, and Nathan Davis added another in the final minute to push Pacific's lead to 59-55.

A three-point shot by Fullove cut the Pacific lead to 61-60 with 7.8 seconds left. A quick foul produced two more free throws by Preston for a 63-60 Pacific lead before the Gauchos' Mark Hull made a three-pointer with nine-tenths of a second left to send the game into overtime.

Ross Mills led Pacific with a season-high 18 points and Heizer scored 17. Hull led the Gauchos with 18 points, 13 after halftime.

Santa Barbara (13-15) led, 33-29, at halftime. The Gauchos shot 46.2% from the field in the first half to 39.1% for Pacific.

Pacific regained the lead at 43-42 with slightly more than 11 minutes left on a three-point shot by Mills. Mills also scored a rebound basket with slightly less than eight minutes left for a 46-42 Pacific lead.

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