March 2, 2006
STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) - Christian Maraker scored 22 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds as Pacific captured a share of its third consecutive Big West Conference championship by beating UC Santa Barbara 64-36 on Thursday night.
Maraker watched from the bench during the final six minutes as Pacific (21-7, 11-2) put the finishing touches on its 10th victory in 11 games. The Tigers can clinch the Big West title outright with a win in their regular-season finale against Cal Poly on Saturday.
Anthony Brown had 12 rebounds off the bench for the Tigers, who had a 48-37 rebounding advantage and a 24-10 edge in points in the paint.
Maraker, who recorded his 14th double-double of the season, scored seven points in the first six minutes as Pacific began the game with a 22-0 run that was capped by eight points from Johnny Gray.
UC Santa Barbara (13-13, 5-8) missed its first 15 shots from the field and didn't score until Cecil Brown's basket with 10:07 remaining in the first half.
UC Santa Barbara, which made just 22 percent of its shots from the field, didn't have any player score more than eight points. Chris Devine led the Gauchos with nine rebounds.
Pacific's biggest lead of the first half was 26-2 after a fast-break dunk by Maraker, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds at halftime.
UC Santa Barbara made just four of its first 31 shots against Pacific's sticky defense, and the Tigers held a 35-12 advantage at the break.
Maraker scored Pacific's first two baskets after halftime and his 3-pointer and Brown's free throw gave the Tigers a 47-18 lead midway through the second half.
Pacific stretched its biggest lead to 31 points in the final minutes.
Pacific went cold in the second half, making 29 percent of its shots after halftime, but the Tigers kept playing defense, and UC Santa Barbara finished 13 of 60 from the field.