Women's Basketball: Pacific Dominates Paint for Comeback Win Over Cal State Fullerton
For the second-straight game Pacific erased a double-digit deficit in the season half, but this time, Pacific would not be denied at the end, pulling away for a 69-65 victory over Cal State Fullerton Sunday at the Alex G. Spanos Center. The Tigers dominated inside, as Danielle Peacon posted her fourth career double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Christina Thompson added 19 points.
Pacific (4-11 overall, 1-1 Big West) owned a 42-24 advantage in points in the paint as forwards Peacon (Sparks, Nev.), Thompson (Sacramento, Calif.) and Taryn Garza (Modesto, Calif.) combined for 46 points and 24 rebounds. Pacific out-rebounded the Titans 53-31. Jordan Rogers (Sparks Nev.) added nine rebounds, seven points and a career-high seven blocked shots.
Pacific shot 59 percent in the second half to erase a 14-point deficit. The Tigers trailed 56-42 with 10:07 to go but out-scored Fullerton 25-3 over the next 9:41 before a pair of threes from Lauren Chow set the final score at 69-65.
"We really needed this one," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "We knew we had an advantage in the paint. Defensively, I thought we were very good all game. We beat a talented team today. I'm proud of how we came back. We were on the ropes, but just kept fighting."
Thompson connected on 8-of-10 from the field to finish with 39 points in her last two games. She entered Friday's game with 32 points all season.
"Christina's had a great weekend and we've been waiting for her to get into her form. Now we're seeing the form that made her an All Big West selection last year," Roberts continued. "She's posting up strong, demanding the ball and it's so nice to have a one-two punch in the block with CT and Danielle. They complement each other quite well and we're a substantially better team with Christina playing the way she is playing."
The Titans opened to a 7-2 lead, but the Tigers whittled the lead down as Peacon picked up a pair of buckets inside, and Garza and Kendall Rodriguez (La Habra, Calif.) were fouled while driving to the rack. Rodriguez's free throws cut the margin to 14-11 with 12:51 remaining in the first half.
The Pacific defense locked down, holding the Titans to just one field goal over the next 6:18, but the Tigers struggled on the offensive end themselves, as Fullerton led 17-14 with 6:25 to go.
Fullerton stretched the lead to as many as 12 on a pair of free throws from Ashley Richie with 2:20 to go in the first, but the Tigers closed the half on a 7-2 run to cut the margin to 30-23 at the break.
Peacon led the Tigers with nine first-half points to go with six rebounds. But Pacific turned the ball over 14 times and was on the unhappy end of a 14-8 differential in fouls called.
In the second half, Thompson powered inside for a pair, but the Titans maintained an eight point advantage before Lyndsey Grove knocked down a three pointer for a 51-40 edge with 11:46 remaining.
Rogers knocked down a deep triple as Pacific pulled within single digits at 56-47, and then Garza found Peacon inside as the Tigers drew to seven. Peacon tallied inside and after a rebound on the defensive end, Rogers connected again to trim the gap to 56-54 with 7:07 to.
Peacon scored seven-straight points for Pacific, giving the Tigers their first lead of the game at 59-57. It was the second-straight contest Pacific trailed by a dozen (or more), rallied back to tie the game at exactly 57-57, then take a 59-57 lead. The Tigers we in the exact same situation against Cal State Northridge on Friday, but the Matadors bounced back to win in overtime.
This time, however, after Fullerton tied the game at 59-59, Pacific responded as Thompson scored the next six points for a 65-59 lead with 1:47 left. After a pair of defensive stops, Erica McKenzie hit a pair of free throws for Pacific's largest lead at 67-59 before Chow connected on a triple to stop the 25-3 run. After another set of McKenzie free throws, Chow connected from deep with eight seconds left, but the comeback was complete and Pacific ran out the clock
Pacific connected on nine of its final 11 field goal attempts (81.8 percent) and held the Titans to 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) in the final 10 minutes, while out-rebounding Fullerton 18-4.
Garza was a force on defense, compiling six steals and nine rebounds to go with a career-high five assists. McKenzie and freshman guard Sam Pettinger (Everett, Wash.) each handed out five assists as well. Pettinger also tallied a career-best two blocked shots while Peacon added two more blocks to reach 30 blocks in 15 games.
Chow and Megan Richardson each finished with 13 points for Cal State Fullerton (5-9 overall, 1-1 Big West). Alex Thomas chipped in 11 points while Richie was the fourth Titan in double-figures with 10.
Pacific will visit Cal Poly on Thursday in a 7 p.m. Big West contest in San Luis Obispo.