Late Comeback Falls Short as Pacific Women’s Basketball Falls to Fresno State, 66-64
A 20-8 run keyed a second-half comeback, but the Pacific women's basketball team couldn't take the lead after erasing a 55-40 deficit, falling to Fresno State 66-64 Wednesday evening at the Alex G. Spanos Center. Sophomore forward Kendall Rodriguez (La Habra, Calif.) posted her first career-double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Gena Johnson (Elk Grove, Calif.) sparked the comeback with a career-high 10 points and five rebounds.
Johnson entered the game with 8:50 remaining and Pacific trailing 39-52. Pacific outscored the three-time WAC conference champions 25-14 the rest of the way as Johnson tallied eight of her 10 points and all her rebounds in that span.
"We're a team that never gives up," Rodriguez said. "We're going to play hard until the last second [passes]. That's just our mentality."
Rodriguez scored eight of her season-high 16 points in the second half. She connected on six-of-10 from the field, four-of-five from the free throw line and also handed out three assists.
Freshman forward Danielle Peacon (Sparks, Nev.) added 10 rebounds and five points to go with four blocks. Senior guard Jennifer Fath (Carollton, Texas) tallied 11 points and a team-high four assists
"I think we showed a lot of heart to comeback from being down," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "We didn't play well for 30 minutes. I thought our bench did a great job tonight coming in and providing lift and bringing in some athleticism. That's a positive. We just have to take care of the ball better and tighten up our decision making. Fresno State is a great team, they won the WAC three years in a row and are picked to win it again. For us to lose by two isn't a bad loss."
Ultimately, Pacific was done in by 25 turnovers in the first 32 minutes of the ballgame, enabling Fresno State to build a lead as large as 17. In the final eight minutes, the Tigers committed just one turnover and gave up just two points off turnovers in the second half.
Fresno State (5-2) was led by 19 points from Jaleesa Ross, while Taylor Thompson tallied 13 points and four steals and Hayley Munro added 11 points. Rosie Moult paced the Bulldogs on the board with 12 rebounds.
Pacific held a statistical edge in most categories: out-rebounding the Bulldogs 47-39, out-shooting Fresno State 46 percent to 33 percent, scoring more in the paint, 38-28. But the Bulldogs scored 17 points of Pacific's 26 turnovers.
Pacific was plagued by turnovers in the first half, but hung around through nine minutes thanks to a defense which held the Bulldogs to five-of-19 shooting to start the game. Tied 14-14 following a jumper Freshman forward Taryn Garza (Modesto, Calif.), Fresno State reeled off a 10-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Thompson.
The Tigers responded with a 7-0 run, as Rodriguez, Fath and Thompson connected from the field and Rogers added a free throw. Fresno State's Veronica Wilson and Junior forward Christina Thompson (Sacramento, Calif.) traded layups as Pacific trailed by three, 26-23 with 2:29 to go in the half, but the Bulldogs closed the half with a 6-0 run to take a 32-23 lead into intermission.
Pacific committed 17 first-half turnovers which led to 14 Fresno State points. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to 32 percent shooting from the field, including just 2-of-15 from three-point range.
Fresno State opened up the second half with a 5-0 run before freshman center Danielle Peacon sank a lay-up to make it 37-25. Both teams struggled to maintain possession of the ball as both squads missed several open shots. After the first media time-out of the half, (name and position of #33 for Fresno) hit a 3-pointer, but Pacific answered with consecutive three-point-plays by Jordan Rogers and Taryn Garza to bring the score to 52-39. A blocked shot by Peacon brought the basketball back to the Tigers before the freshman sank 1-of-2 at the free throw line. However, Peacon would foul out shortly after with 8:26 left to play.
Following a time out, Pacific went on a 9-4 run capped by Fath's lay-up to narrow the margin to single digits, putting the score 59-50.
Jaleesa Ross answered the Tiger run with a basket for Fresno State to make it 61-50 at the 5:15 mark, but the Black and Orange still had plenty of fight left. In the span of 4:20, Pacific broke out with a 12-2 run to get within one point. Johnson and Thompson posted back-to-back jumpers while Fath nailed a three-pointer from the corner to cut the margin to three. Pacific made the stop on the defensive end with Thompson's rebound giving the Tigers possession. Rodriguez then connected on a jumper from the baseline to pull the Tigers to within one, 63-62 with 58 seconds remaining.
But Munro tallied a lay-up with 36 seconds left and the Tigers' three-point attempt to tie fell short. After Ross went one-for-two from the free throw line, Fath knocked down a pair of free throws to bring Pacific to within two. But the Tigers were unable to produce a Bulldog turnover, and Fresno State ran out the clock for a 66-64 win.
After shooting 37 percent from the field in the first half, Pacific made an impressive 55.2 percent of shots in the second half. The Tigers also increased their free-throw percentage from 50 percent in the first half to 72.7 percent in the second half.
Thompson tallied a season-high six points to go with four rebounds for Pacific, while Garza added nine points and three rebounds for Pacific.
The loss drops Pacific to 2-5 on the season after opening the season 2-1.
The Tigers will travel to Moraga for a match-up with St. Mary's on Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m.