Pacific Women's Basketball Falls at Southern Utah, 79-78, in Final Seconds
The Pacific Tigers dropped a heart-breaker in their road opener at Southern Utah, 79-78, Tuesday night at Centrum Arena. The Thunderbirds' Desiree Jackson knocked down a pair of free throws with 10.9 seconds to go and the Tigers final attempt rimmed out. Sophomore forward Jordan Roger (Sparks, Nev.) scored 19 points for Pacific, tying her career high.
Following a three-pointer with 40 seconds left from sophomore guard Erica McKenzie (Sparks, Nev.), Pacific led 78-77 in the waning seconds. The Tigers defense looked sound as three Tigers met the entry pass into the post, but Rogers was whistled for a foul underneath and Jackson stepped to the line, sinking both from the charity stripe for a 79-78 lead with 10.9 to go.
Southern Utah's Caitlyn Sears led all scorers with 21 points, while Kaila Goff added 12 and Jackson finished with 11.
Pacific senior guard Jennifer Fath (Carrollton, Texas) drove the lane and got off a lefty scoop shot as she was hit, but the shot went over the basket. Freshman forward Danielle Peacon (Sparks, Nev.) was there and got off a put-back attempt which rimmed out before the final buzzer.
Rogers connected on 6-of-11 from the field, including four three-pointers, to match her career high scoring total. Peacon added 15 points to go with five rebounds, while Fath had success driving the lane all game until the final possession, as she finished with 11 points and added five assists.
Southern Utah shot 63 percent in the second half, as Pacific played in foul trouble on the interior. Pacific owned a 36-32 advantage in rebounding, including a 19-13 edge in offensive rebounding. But the Thunderbirds converted 17-of-20 from the free throw line to take the one point victory.
"It's tough," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "I thought we did a good job rebounding in the second half and taking away their second-looks, which is something they were successful with in the first half. I also thought we did a good job attacking the basket, but we couldn't get to the free throw line. But... when you go on the road, you expect that you're not going to get the breaks."
The Tigers shot just two free throws in the final 9:46 of the game following Rogers converting an 'and-one' to give Pacific a 61-58 lead. Pacific falls to 2-2 on the year, while Southern Utah (1-3) won its first win of the season.
Freshman forward Taryn Garza (Modesto, Calif.) scored eight points with five rebounds and three steals while sophomore forward Kendall Rodriguez (La Habra, Calif.) also tallied eight points with four rebounds and three assists. Freshman guard Gena Johnson (Elk Grove, Calif.) chipped in seven points on three-of-five shooting. McKenzie finished with six points on a pair of three-pointers.
The Tigers offense got off to a slow start as the Thunderbirds took an early 7-2 lead. But after a timeout, Pacific adjusted and started to get open looks, connecting on seven of their next 11 attempts including a pair of three pointers by Rogers to embark on a 14-2 run and take a 16-9 lead. Pacific stretch the lead to nine off a lay-up from Rodriguez with 8:55 to go in the half, holding a 21-12 margin.
Southern Utah's Carli Moreland provided a spark off the bench as she found gaps inside on the Tigers defense for four quick points in the paint and added three rebounds, including two on the offensive end. The 8-0 run saw Southern Utah pull with 23-22, with 6:00 remaining in the half. But the Tigers quickly surged back ahead as Peacon scored inside and Johnson cut to the hoop for two. The Thunderbirds closed the half strong however, as Moreland hit again from the paint and Sears drained a three-pointer. Pacific carried a 37-32 lead into halftime, led by eight from Rogers. Peacon had six at the break with Johnson and Rodriguez each adding two.
Pacific shot 52 percent in the first half (13-of-25), while holding Southern Utah to 39 percent shooting (12-of-31), but the Thunderbirds held a 19-15 advantage on the glass and their 10 second-chance points kept the margin tight through 20 minutes.
In the second half neither team led by more than four as the two teams traded the lead 10 times with 10 ties. Pacific battled back from deficit nine times in the second half. Rogers tied the game at 71-71 with a big three-pointer from the corner with 4:05 to go, and after a lay-up from Sears put SUU ahead by a pair, McKenzie gave the Tigers a 78-77 lead with 41 seconds left in the ball game on a triple from the opposite corner.
The Tigers will move on to Las Vegas for the Thanksgiving Holiday and open the UNLV Hyatt Place Lady Rebel Round-up on Friday at 5 p.m. PT against Rutgers. Pacific will face either Oregon State or UNLV on Saturday, with the consolation game tipping off at 5 p.m. and the championship to follow at 7:30 p.m.