Pacific Women's Basketball Opens BWC Play With Fifth-Straight Home Win
The Pacific women's basketball team pulled out a late victory over Cal State Fullerton in the Big West opener, 72-67 Thursday night behind 15 points from Ashley Wakefield and a career-high 10 from Kristina Johnson. Gena Johnson added 11 as the Tigers won their fifth-straight home game and improved to 7-5 on the season.
Pacific led for the entire second half until a three-pointer by Megan Richardson gave Fullerton a 67-66 lead with 2:16 to go, but Gena Johnson drove to the bucket and finished while being fouled, giving Pacific a two-point edge. Kendall Rodriguez blocked Alex Thomas' shot with 1:27 remaining and Wakefield finished for a four-point edge. The Tigers held on the defensive end, and turned in a free throw for the final margin.
Rodriguez finished with nine points and nine rebounds to go with four steals, while Erica McKenzie added nine points and six rebounds.
The Tigers held Fullerton to 31 percent shooting in the second half, and kept the Titans off the board for the final 2:16, forcing four errant shots. Pacific committed a season-low 14 turnovers and despite being out-rebounded 46-41 and facing a 23-15 disadvantage in free throw attempts, the Tigers hit a number of clutch three-pointers and made big shots down the stretch to improve to 7-5 on the season and 1-0 in Big West play.
Fullerton falls to 6-6 overall, 0-1 in conference. The Titans were led by 20 points from Richardson and 16 from Thomas.
The Tigers opened with a 10-4 run, as Rodriguez drove for the old-fashioned three-point play, and then capped the run with a three-pointer from behind the arc. Pacific held the Titans to two of their first nine from the field, and after McKenzie drained a three-pointer she then laid it in on the break following a steal from Rodriguez for a 21-11 lead.
Kristina Johnson added a pair of buckets, as the Tigers maintained their 10-point lead, 32-22. Mya Olivier posted a lay-up for the Titans as Fullerton chipped into the Tiger lead, pulling within six. But Wakefield drove the baseline in response.
The Titans reeled off a 14-5 run behind six points each from Megan Richardson and Alex Thomas to cut the gap to one at 37-36, but Sam Pettinger beat the buzzer with a three-ball from the corner to give Pacific a 40-36 advantage at intermission.
Pacific shot 45.7 percent in the first half, led by Wakefield's nine points and six from Rodriguez and Smith.
Fullerton opened the second half with lay-up from Thomas, but Christina Thompson answered with a bucket inside, Gena Johnson added a running lay-up and Wakefield a baseline jumper for a 50-43 Pacific lead with 13:44 to go.
The Titans answered with an 8-2 run, pulling within one, before McKenzie's floater in the lane provided a three-point cushion. But Lauren Chow hit a three-pointer from the wing for the first tie in the ballgame since 2-2 at 54-all.
Kristina Johnson beat the shot clock with a three-pointer to put Pacific up 59-56. Johnson added another three-pointer and Kendall Kenyon scored inside twice as the Tigers led by four, 66-62 with 2:40 to go.
But the Titans scored inside and then Ricardson knocked down a three-pointer to give Fullerton its first lead of the half, at 67-66 with 1:56 to go.
But Gena Johnson gave the Tigers the lead right back, scoring while being fouled and the free throw gave Pacific a 69-67 lead. After a block on the defensive end by Rodriguez, Wakefield drove baseline to push the lead to two possessions, 71-67.
Pacific's defense held strong, and after Rodriguez grabbed the rebound, she was intentionally fouled. Rodriguez hit one of two, and the Tigers held on another possession to come away with their third-straight win overall.
The Tigers are back in action next Thursday, Jan. 5, at UC Irvine and then at UC Riverside on Jan. 7 before returning to the Spanos Center on Jan. 12 against Long Beach State.