Pacific Women's Basketball: Pacific Comes Within Six of UC Santa Barbara, Falls 65-58
With the loss, the Tigers fell to 3-11, 1-3 inside of the Big West, while UC Santa Barbara improved to 5-10 and 2-1 in conference action.
The Gauchos came out of the gates strong, scoring the first 13 points of the contest over a span of 5:20 to take an early 13-0 lead. The Tigers scored their first bucket of the game on a lay-up by sophomore forward Christina Thompson (Sacramento, Calif.) with 14:23 remaining in the half, and Thompson went on to score two more field goals in a row, pulling Pacific within nine points at 15-6 with 10:59 left before halftime.
UC Santa Barbara went on to outscore the Tigers 14-5 over the next 8:03 of action, taking its largest lead of the half at 29-11 with 3:24 remaining. Freshman Erica McKenzie (Sparks, Nev.) then closed out the half strong for Pacific, connecting on two three-pointers and a pair of free throws over the waning moments, cutting the Gaucho lead to 34-20 at intermission. McKenzie went on to score a career-high 22 points to lead all players on the night.
The Tigers shot just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while the Gauchos shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27). McKenzie scored eight first half points to lead Pacific, while Thompson added six. The Gauchos did the majority of their damage in the paint, outscoring the Tigers 18-8 inside the key.
Pacific fought hard to get back into the contest to start the second half, as McKenzie knocked down two more three-pointers in the first five minutes, cutting the Gaucho advantage down 42-30. After six-straight Gaucho points extended the lead back to 48-30 with 11:41 remaining, the Tigers went on a 21-9 run over the next 9:49 to get back into the contest.
The Pacific run included eight points from freshman Jordan Rogers (Sparks, Nev.), six points from McKenzie, who knocked down her career-high sixth three-pointer during the scoring spurt, and four points from senior Emma Head (San Diego, Calif.). Head closed the run knocking down a pair of free throws and converting a lay-up to cut the Tigers deficit to six points at 57-51 with 1:52 remaining, the smallest Gaucho lead since the game was 6-0 to start out the contest.
However, UC Santa Barbara was able to close the game out at the foul line, knocking down 6-of-8 at the stripe during the final two minutes to take home the 65-58 victory.
McKenzie's 22 points came on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, 6-of-14 from beyond the three-point arc and a perfect 2-of-2 at the foul line. Head finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, as the senior went a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from the foul line. Pacific forced the Gauchos into 31 turnovers, converting the miscues into 18 steals and 20 points.
The Gauchos were led by Meagan Williams with 18 points, while Mekia Valentine added a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 59 seconds to play. UC Santa Barbara shot 49 percent from the field (24-of-49) for the contest, and knocked down 14-of-17 (82.4 percent) from the foul line.
Pacific returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 16, as they travel to Southern California to take on the UC Irvine Anteaters in their lone contest of the week. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.