BASKETBALL: Pacific men win twice over the weekend to get back in the Northwest Conference fray
by: Chase Allgood, Pacific sophomore A.J. Gaulton (No. 12) tries to get off a shot over 6-foot-7 forward Stephen Dennis during Friday’s Northwest Conference game against Linfield.

The Pacific men's basketball team appears to be hitting its stride, winning two games at home over the weekend to get back in the Northwest Conference mix.

Pacific (5-10, 3-3) crushed Linfield on Friday night, then held off George Fox in a nailbiter on Saturday. The two wins landed the Boxers in a three-way tie for fifth place with Willamette and Lewis and Clark.

Pacific dismantled Linfield (9-6, 4-2) on Friday night in front of a huge home crowd for 'Pack the PAC Night,' a special event featuring free admission for local students and youth basketball teams. More than 800 fans showed up for the game - nearly double what the Boxers typically draw for a home game - and they got quite a show as Pacific rolled to an 81-51 win over the third-place Wildcats.

Junior forward Garold Howe led Pacific with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while fellow post Joe Van Domelen added 18. Donnie Harrison-Davis sprung for 19 points as the Boxers shot 49 percent from the field, including a 6-for-11 effort from three-point range.

Pacific used a 14-0 run to break an early tie, eventually settling on a 39-27 halftime lead. Linfield sliced the gap to eight points in the opening minutes of the second half before Pacific pulled away for good. The Boxers led by 20 midway through the stanza, then closed the game on a 13-2 run, punctuated by a Jeremy Hinderman dunk.

'Our guys played a pretty complete game. We played unselfish and we played hard,' said Pacific head coach Jason Lowery. 'I was surprised to see the margin balloon like it did, but it shows that good things can happen if you keep playing hard and together for 40 minutes.'

The Boxers needed all 40 minutes to get past George Fox (4-11, 0-6) the following night. Pacific forged ahead with 6:32 remaining and held a slim two-point lead in the closing seconds before Howe made four straight free throws to secure a 74-70 victory.

Howe had another stellar game, finishing with 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting. Hinderman and sophomore A.J. Gaulton scored 11 points apiece.

George Fox led 30-22 after a sluggish first half, and the Bruins held the lead for much of the second half as well. Pacific took its first lead of the second half on an arcing three-pointer by Howe with under seven minutes to play.

The Boxers would lead by as many as seven points before George Fox made a late run, pulling within two on Brent Satern's jumper with eight seconds left. The Bruins were forced to foul, sending Howe to the line four times in the final four seconds. The junior made all four shots to cap a 22-point second half.

'Garold is a talented player who is continuing to adjust to the program and our system,' Lowery said. 'He was outstanding offensively this weekend. He really spearheaded our run against George Fox and made some big baskets and free throws.'

Pacific will have a chance to make up some ground in the conference standings this weekend with a road trip to Willamette (5-10, 3-3) on Friday and a home game against Pacific Lutheran (8-6, 4-2) on Saturday. Willamette is currently tied with Pacific, while Pacific Lutheran sits a game ahead of the Boxers.

'Willamette runs their motion and flex [offenses] as well as anybody, and they are always tough to guard because they invert so much offensively,' Lowery said. 'PLU is explosive offensively. They run the floor, are great in transition and in the half court they put in four guys who can shoot it and drive it around the conference's best post player.'

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