Pacific Opens Big West Women's Basketball Tournament at UCSB Tuesday
The Pacific Tigers women's basketball team opens the 2011 Big West Tournament Tuesday at 7 p.m. against UC Santa Barbara in the quarterfinals. Pacific, coming off a 63-49 win at Cal State Northridge to wrap the regular season Saturday, is looking to advance to the semifinals for the ninth time, and first since 2004.
The Tigers enter as the tournament's number seven seed after Saturday's must-win at Northridge to make the field. Pacific's defense locked down on the Matadors midway through the first half, as the Tigers held Northridge to two baskets on 15 possessions over a stretch of nearly seven minutes during an 18-4 run. The stretch put Pacific up by 16 at halftime. After extending the lead to as many as 20, the Tigers held off Northridge from the free throw line for a 63-49 victory.
"I was proud of our effort in Northridge," said head coach Lynne Roberts. "We came out strong, and maintained that intensity for nearly all 40 minutes. We challenged our players with being accountable for their one-on-one defense, and the result was the fewest points we've allowed this season."
Pacific will need another strong defensive effort against the Gauchos, which earned a share of the regular season title on the final day of the regular season with a win over Cal Poly. UC Santa Barbara (19-10 overall, 12-4 Big West) swept the season series from the Tigers, in a pair of tight ballgames.
"Santa Barbara is a very strong team with a rich tradition of winning. We really respect their history of championships, but all we are focused on is this season. We played them really close both times," Roberts continued. "Each game we were tied or led in the second half, but there was a stretch in which we didn't execute on offense and get a big bucket when we needed one, and that allowed them to win in a two or three possession-game."
At Santa Barbara on Jan. 8, the Tigers and Gauchos held a defensive standoff which was tied at 35-35 with 10:30 remaining. But UCSB rattled off 13 unanswered points over the next five minutes to seize control of the game and emerge with a 56-47 win. Freshman forward Danielle Peacon (Sparks, Nev.) tallied 14 points in the contest, while fellow freshman Gena Johnson (Elk Grove, Calif.) came off the bench to score 13. Those two were honored Monday as part of the Big West All-Freshmen team while also earning Big West Honorable Mention accolades.
On Feb. 3, at the Alex G. Spanos Center, the Tigers and Gauchos were knotted up at 30-30 at halftime. The Tigers led by one with 11:47 remaining, but once again UCSB pulled away late, as an 18-4 run allowed the Gauchos to fend off a late charge from Pacific for a 69-62 win as Johnson scored a team-high 16 points off the bench.
"We're excited. It's the second season, and it's going to take three wins for anyone to win the Big West title. We need to bring that same intensity we had against Northridge if we want to survive and advance."
The winner of Tuesday's Tigers-Gauchos match-up will move on to the semifinals at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday. The semifinals will be re-seeded based on which four teams advance.