Second-Half Defense Sparks Pacific Women's Hoops In 80-59 Win At UC Riverside
The Pacific women's basketball team dominated the second half for a 80-59 road victory over UC Riverside on Saturday, using an 20-2 run to turn a one-point halftime lead into the Tigers' second Big West win of the year. Kendall Kenyon tallied a double-double in her first career start, and Ashley Wakefield led three Tigers in double-figures with 17 points.
Sophomore guard Gena Johnson added 14 points on five-of-six shooting and picked up five steals. Wakefield added eight rebounds to her 17 points, while Kenyon grabbed 10 boards and added 15 points.
Sophomore guard Sam Pettinger handed out a career-high six assists against just one turnover. Junior forward Kendall Rodriguez chipped in eight points and seven boards with three assists and three steals. Junior guard Erica McKenzie finished with eight points and junior forward Ashley Smith added seven.
Pacific opened the second half with an 8-0 run, as Wakefield and Gena Johnson drove for three-point plays and Kenyon added a basket inside. After a Highlander basket, the Tigers reeled off another 12 straight points. Wakefield buried a three pointer and after a jumper from Rodriguez, Johnson tallied five-straight points including another and-one opportunity as the Tigers led 55-36 with 12:43 to go.
The Tigers forced seven turnovers on the Highlanders' first 13 possessions of the second half.
After the Highlanders whittled the lead down to 14, Smith gave Pacific a 17-point lead and the Tigers coasted home, as Kenyon's free throw following Pacific's sixth and-one opportunity gave the Tigers a 20-point advantage at 76-56. Kristina Johnson hit a floater in the lane for Pacific's largest lead, and the final margin, 80-59.
The Tigers shot 48.7 percent in the second half, forcing 13 second-half turnovers and holding UCR to 27 percent shooting after halftime.
The Tigers opened the game with a 6-3 lead as Wakefield drove to the hoop for a bucket and Johnson finished and got fouled. But Riverside answered back with a 12-3 run, as Jessica Ogunnorin posted a pair of baskets.
Pacific responded with a 12-0 run of their own a pair of free throws by Rodriguez and a three-pointer from McKenzie to tie the game 15-15, and an Ashley Smith free throw gave the lead back and Wakefield capped the run with an and-one opportunity to give Pacific a 20-15 lead with 9:15 remaining in the half.
A pair of free throws by Brittany Palmer pulled UC Riverside to within two and then hit a jumper to tie the game at 25-25, and Ogunnorin added a lay-up for a 27-25 Riverside lead. However, Wakefield answered with a drive to the bucket, with the foul for a 28-27 advantage. Riverside led 34-31 with 49 seconds before the half, but Smith hit a pair of throws and Wakefield put back a missed shot before the buzzer to give Pacific the lead for good.
Pacific out-rebounded UC Riverside 49-38 to improve to 8-6 on the season and 2-1 in the Big West. UC Riverside falls to 2-13 on the season, 0-4 in the Big West.
The Highlanders were led by Jessica Ogunnorin, who posted 14 points and added 12 rebounds, while Brittany Palmer added 12 points.
The Tigers will return home to the Alex G. Spanos Center to face Long Beach State on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Cal State Northridge on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 4 p.m.