Home cooking was good for the Indians again Friday.
Pacific (9-3) remained unbeaten at home this season with a 45-36 victory against Washington (5-5).
Pacific jumped out to a 6-1 lead and then finished the first quarter on a 9-0 run to go up 15-6 after the first period and led the rest of the way.
It was a 25-14 Pacific advantage at the half and the Indians went up 36-27 at the end of the third quarter.
“Even in the second half, they’d cut it to four and somebody would make a shot or make a play and that’s the sign of a good team,” Pacific Head Coach John VanLeer said. “We don’t feel like we played real well offensively. We’ll give them credit for part of that, but also I just don’t think we were locked in offensively. I don’t think the ball moved the way we needed it to. Maybe we didn’t attack the lane quite as much as what we needed to.”
Washington battled back multiple times in the second half to cut the lead down to just a couple of possessions difference, but couldn’t get any closer than that.
“For as bad as we played first half, we were still in the game at 11 points and I thought we came up with a big offensive intensity and defensive intensity in the second half,” Washington Head Coach Grant Young said. “We brought it back to two possessions multiple times and maybe had a chance to go over the top and just had some things not go our way. They hit some shots late and we didn’t and they picked their defensive intensity up in the fourth quarter too.”
Cameron VanLeer led all scorers with 13 points for Pacific and added seven rebounds with six assists and two steals.
Matt Strong knocked down four three-point shots for the Indians, finishing with 12 points, three rebounds, an assist and three steals.
Even if the Indians didn’t pick up as many points in the paint as their coach would have liked, the signature of the team has been the ability to make threes and Pacific put through eight of them against Washington. In addition to Strong’s four, Cameron VanLeer hit three and Mason Fleming one. The team shot a combined 8-17 from beyond the arc.
Pacific finished with a higher three-point shooting percentage (47.1 percent) than its percentage from inside the arc (40 percent), making as many threes as twos.
“We want to get paint touches before you shoot threes unless you’ve made a couple,” Coach VanLeer said. “That’s kind of my rule. Some guys have got a little more of a green light than others, but Matt made a bunch of quick shots today.”
Tom Hennessy’s seven points, six from Ryan Sauvage, four from Trey Boyer and the three from Fleming accounted for the rest of the Pacific scoring.
Sauvage pulled down three rebounds and Hennessy, Boyer and Jordan Cowsert each grabbed two.
Boyer and Cowsert each dished out three assists and Sauvage had one. Sauvage also had two steals.
Forward Cason Suggs led Washington with 11 points.
Other Blue Jays’ scores came from Zach Harms (eight), Alec Brinkmann (six), Ryan Hoerstkamp (six), Rett Corley (three) and Zach Subke (two).
“I really liked, not just one player, but the leadership I saw on the floor,” Young said. “The leadership of every kid changed tonight for our team with kids coming over to the sideline talking to us, seeing things on the floor. Something that we talked about to the kids, that’s part of the game, being that coach on the floor. I really saw that, not just with one, but multiple guys and that was huge for our team to be able to carry through the rest of the season.”
The Blue Jays next enter their home tournament as the No. 6 seed, hosting Francis Howell Central (6-5) Tuesday night while Pacific next plays at home against Jefferson City (8-4) Thursday.