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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 17, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alex G. Spanos Center (6,150) -- Stockton, California. Television: None. Home Record: Western Illinois 0-0, Pacific 1-0. Away Record: Western Illinois 0-2, Pacific 1-0. Neutral Record: Western Illinois 0-0, Pacific 0-0. Conference Record: Western Illinois 0-0, Pacific 0-0. Series Record: Pacific leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: In the second part of a three-game homestand, the Pacific Tigers will play host to the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a non-conference clash at the Spanos Center.
This contest is the last part of a three-game road trip for the Leathernecks. The first two stops on the season-opening tour have not gone particularly well for the Leathernecks. After taking a 67-63 loss from Idaho in the season opener they were then dropped, 62-47, by Nebraska in Lincoln. Western Illinois, which went 22-9 overall last year, was a competitive road team last year when it finished with seven wins in 12 tries as the visiting squad.
Pacific has had more success with a 2-0 mark through the first week. Both games featured tense endings as a last-second layup lifted them to a road win over Nevada in the opener (80-78), after which the Tigers escaped with an 84-79 triumph at home over UC Irvine. Home cooking generally helped the Tigers last year when the team went 13-2 at the Spanos Center. In fact, Pacific has won 11 straight games at home dating back to last season.
Pacific rolled to a 108-64 victory in Stockton during the 1968-69 season during the only other meeting between these two programs.
The Leathernecks dug themselves into a hole they could never get out of in the first half against Nebraska. Western Illinois allowed the Cornhuskers to shoot at a 56-percent clip in the opening period, while shooting a miserable 31.8 percent during the frame and 37.8 percent during the game as a whole.
Both of Western Illinois' games this year have been marred by poor offensive showings. The Leathernecks are connecting on just 41.5 percent of their shots from the field and assisting on just 8.5 field goals per game. Garret Covington (13.5 ppg) has been the only real consistent offensive threat but he has been one of the poorest shooters on the team, netting just 34.8 percent from the field. Covington had just five points on 2-of-11 shooting against Nebraska. Tate Stensgaard (10.5 ppg) is the only other player to be averaging in double figures that has played in both games. Stensgaard is playing just 17.5 minutes per contest but he was the only player in double figures against Nebraska, with 10 points.
Pacific forced 14 turnovers and coughed the ball up only eight times itself against UC Irvine. Those efforts proved important as the Tigers managed to get off 14 more field goal attempts and win the game, despite shooting 40.3 percent from the field, while the Anteaters were at an even 50 percent.
Sama Taku (16.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg) hasn't shot the ball well, but he is still scoring at an solid rate. Taku scored 20 points against UC Irvine and is one of three players on the roster averaging in double figures despite shooting just 34.6 percent from the field. Ross Rivera (17.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has been a critical performer off the bench as he is the leading scorer, despite serving as a reserve in each contest. Rivera had 21 points against UC Irvine and is shooting at a solid 56.5 percent from the floor. Tony Gill (13.0 ppg) is a solid contributor as well. Gill only played for 13 minutes before fouling out against UC Irvine and didn't make much of an impact, as he scored just four points and grabbed two rebounds.
One of these teams has yet to lose and is hosting this contest. The other has yet to win a game and is really struggling to score. Expect both trends to continue in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pacific 68, Western Illinois 60
11/17 10:33:22 ET