Pacific women's basketball: Tigers Fall On Pink Night To UC Riverside, 71-59
Out of the gates the Tigers looked to be on the right track towards picking up a victory in front of their home crowd. In the opening minute of the game the Tigers surged ahead of the Highlanders, 5-0, behind a quick penetrating offense and a swarming pressure defense that kept UC Riverside scoreless through the first two minutes. With the Tigers' pressing early the Highlanders struggled to find an offensive rhythm from which Pacific was able to hold onto a slight lead throughout the entire first half, only giving up the lead twice in the half.
Against the taller Highlanders, the Tigers were able to use their quickness advantage to get to the basket in the opening half, aggressively working to the basket at every chance while earning multiple three-point play opportunities for their efforts. Making their three-point play opportunities count, sophomore Christina Thompson (Sacramento, Calif.) and junior Jennifer Fath (Carrollton, Texas) turned a one point Highlander lead back into a Tiger advantage on the scoreboard midway through the half.
Back in the lead, the Tigers suffered a huge setback heading into the second half when freshman Kendall Rodriguez (La Habre, Calif.) was ejected from the contest with 3:33 to play in the half for a flagrant foul on a play in whichDespite the loss of one of its starters Pacific would take a 33-30 lead into the break against the Highlanders, using the same penetrating offense to score the final bucket of the half on a drive down the left baseline by freshman Jordan Rogers (Sparks, Nev.). However, the Tigers' lead would be short lived as the Highlanders turned the tables on Pacific to start the second half, jumping immediately on the Tigers' defense including scoring a layup off the inbounds pass to start the half.
The quick start by the Highlanders kept the two teams close for the first four minutes of the second half as the score would post tied at 40-40 for the final time with just over 16 minutes to play. The Highlanders would force the Tigers to play catch-up for the rest of the game as they went on a 12-5 run to take a seven point lead at 52-45 with just over 12 minutes to play. Looking at a three possession deficit, the Tigers closed to within three just a minute later, but immediately saw UC Riverside push back ahead by six when Brittany Waddell answered with a shot from distance on the next possession. Additionally, the Tigers would lose Rogers to foul trouble with just over 10 to play, forcing Pacific to play a smaller lineup against the much taller Highlanders.
The mismatch in size would prove to be too much for the Tigers to overcome as UC Riverside pushed their lead to as much as 14 with four minutes to play, allowing the Tigers to close to within 10 with 1:05 to play. The Highlanders finished the contest with free-throws.
For the Tigers, Thompson led the way offensively with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting but was stymied in her attempts on the glass as she was held to just one rebound. No other Tiger reached double-digits in scoring as the Tigers shot 22-for-60 (36.7%).
On the other side of the court, the Highlanders put three players in double-figures in the scorebook led by Alyssa Morris' 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Additionally, Morris added 10 rebounds for the double-double as UC Riverside outrebounded the Tigers 45-to-29. Rhaya Neabors added 19 points to the Highlanders cause while Marissa Rivera posted 10. In the second half, the Highlanders shot 68% from the floor to finish the game shooting 50.8%.
Pacific will be back in action on Thursday, February 4 in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Tigers will face off against the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara at 7:00 pm.