12:00 AM ET, March 14, 2004
Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Pacific won the Big West Conference tournament by refusing to be the latest team to succumb to a Cal State Northridge rally.Miah Davis made two free throws with 5.1 seconds left to give the Tigers a 75-73 victory over Northridge on Saturday night and their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1997.Guillaume Yango scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the second-seeded Tigers (24-7), who blew a 19-point, first-half lead but hung on for their first Big West tournament title in seven years.Pacific coach Bob Thomason warned his team about Northridge's tendency to make trouble late."It doesn't matter how many times you knock them down," Thomason said. "Northridge is the kind of team that will keep chasing you. They really have a fearlessness about them. They just started playing at a different level."Sixth-seeded Northridge (14-16) reached the final by rallying in the final 40 seconds of its previous two games to upset third-seeded UC Santa Barbara and No. 22 Utah State, the top-seeded team.Northridge, which trailed 72-65 with 3:10 to play, tied it at 73 on Eto Onyenegecha's 3-pointer with 37.8 seconds left. At the other end of the court, Onyenegecha blocked Yango's attempted layin and tipped the ball to Davin White to start the transition.On Pacific's next possession, Davis dribbled from the point toward the lane and drew a blocking foul from White."I thought I was in a good place to take the charge," White said. "But they were getting the calls all night."Davis, the conference's player of the year, made both free throws to finish with 11 points."You have to feel comfortable, confident and relaxed in a situation like that," said Davis, who shot 85.1 percent from the free throw line this season. "I was feeling kind of happy. I had a grin on my face. I laugh at the line."Northridge coach Bobby Braswell didn't like his team's chances with Davis at the line."There was no doubt in my mind he was going to make those free throws," Braswell said. "He's been clutch like that for them all season long."White's 3-point attempt hit the rim with 0.8 seconds remaining, and Yango grabbed the rebound."Four games in four nights eventually caught up with us," Braswell said. "But we could've given up when we got behind by 19. I don't think there's a coach in America who's more proud of his team than I am."Ian Boylan had 22 points for Northridge and was named the tournament's most valuable player. Onyenegecha added 12 points and White 11.Pacific's David Doubley finished with 14 points and tied a career high with seven assists. Tom Cockle added 13 points and Christian Maraker 11.The Tigers, who tied a school record for most victories in a season, will take a 15-game winning streak into the NCAA tournament.
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