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Pacific Women's Hoops Falls At Northridge

Feb 17, 2012

A 14-3 run midway through the second half by the Big West Conference leaders was too much for the Pacific women's basketball team to overcome, falling to Cal State Northridge to a 64-56 Thursday night at the Matadome. Pacific received a career-high 10 points from junior guard Kelli Lewis and 14 fromErica McKenzie, but the Tigers' win streak was snapped at four.

With virtually the entire roster riddled with a flu virus, head coach Lynne Roberts pieced together a rotation which made an abnormal game appear normal.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of this team and their toughness," Roberts said. "I've never seen anything like it. We had kids who couldn't make it out to the floor before the game, out of the locker room at halftime, and kids that had to come out during the game. We shuffled players in and out based who couldn't stand up any longer. This team has been unselfish all year long, and tonight, they fought through more than a basketball game together. Kelli Lewis really stepped up big time in the game, but the entire team carried each other. To make a game out of a situation like that -- now that's toughness."

Lewis, a junior guard, entered the game with eight points in seven games this season, and had more than doubled her previous career high by halftime.  She played 19 minutes Thursday night after logging 22 in the Tigers first 23 games.

Junior forward Ashley Smith added nine points while junior forward Kendall Rodriguez chipped in eight points and seven rebounds.  Sophomore guard Sam Pettinger logged a team-high 30 minutes with five points, three assists and three steals.

Pacific falls to 14-10 overall, and 7-5 in the Big West, while Cal State Northridge improves to 15-10, 9-3 in the BWC.  The Matadors were led by Janae Sharpe's 19 points, while Jasmine Erving added 17 points and 14 rebounds.

The Tigers shot 31 percent for the game as Northridge packed the paint defensively. Pacific attempted 30 three-pointers, connecting on nine. The Tigers forced 23 turnovers, but scored just 13 points off those miscues. The Matadors connected at a 43 percent clip and hit four of their eight three-point attempts.  

Pacific got on the board first with a three-pointer from Sam Pettinger, but the Matadors answered with eight-straight points. Kendall Rodrgiuez responded with a jumper from the elbow. Northridge posted back-to-back lay-ups before Kelli Lewis hit a jumper with 11:06 left in the half to pull Pacific within 14-7.

The Matadors stretched the gap to 18-9 on lay-ups by Camille Mahlknecht and Jasmine Erving before Pettinger posted the put-back and Rodriguez drained a three-pointer to cut the lead in half with six minutes left in the period.

Kendall Kenyon scored inside and grabbed the defensive board on the other end, as the Tigers pulled within two. But each side traded empty possessions before Pettinger and Ashley Smith ran the pick and roll to tie the game and Lewis knocked down a three-pointer for the 21-18 lead 3:09 before the half.

After a lay-in, Erving banked in a runner to put Northridge back on top, 22-21, but Lewis recorded a steal and went coast-to-coast for the fast break lay-up and a 23-22 Tiger advantage. However, a one-and-one opportunity for Northridge with 0.6 seconds left in the half, led to Janae Sharpe's free throws to give the Matadors a 24-23 halftime advantage.

Pacific shot 30 percent in the first half to Northridge's 40 percent shooting, but the Tigers forced 16 first-half turnovers.

Erving opened the second half with a long jumper, and Erica McKenzie answered with a three-pointer. After a lay-up from Sharpe, McKenzie scored on the drive while being fouled and three-point play gave the Tigers a 29-28 lead.

Brianna Johnson scored on a jumper and Rodriguez added a three as Pacific turned in an 11-4 run to open the half and take a 34-28 lead. Northridge battled back to tie it at 35-35, but Ashley Smith stepped back for a three with 14:11 remaining.

Sharpe finished inside for Northridge and her and-one free throw tied the game at 40-40. The Matadors surged ahead, stringing together a 14-3 run. Ashlee Guay put the Matadors up four, before McKenzie pulled Pacific within one again, 44-43, with a three-pointer. But Sharpe hit a three for an eight-point edge with 7:47 to go.

McKenzie and Alama traded three-pointers, and Kristina Johnson and Ashley Smith tallied for Pacific to cut the gap to eight. And after a stop on defense, Lewis hit a three from the corner to cut the Northridge lead to five with 2:25 remaining.

Pacific held the Matadors to just two points in a stretch of over five minutes, but five straight empty possessions by Pacific allowed Northridge to retain a 61-56 lead until a pair of free throws from Sharpe iced the victory for Northridge.

The Tigers will continue on to Long Beach, to take on the 49ers on Saturday in a 4 p.m. tip-off.

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