Tigers Down Matadors Behind McKenzie's Eight Three-Pointers
There's always been a love affair between Erica McKenzie and the three-pointer. On Valentine's Day, they took their relationship to the next level, as McKenzie drained eight on 10 attempts to lead the Tigers to a 74-56 win at Cal State Northridge.
McKenzie tied Selena Ho's Pacific record for three-pointers made in a game, with eight and the Tigers tied the Big West record with 15 made three-pointers, hitting 15-of-23 (65.2 percent). Kendall Rodriguez added a five-of-seven performance from long range and finished with 16 points and six assists. Kendall Kenyon, limited to 10 minutes by foul trouble, hit five-of-five in the paint for 12 points.
Pacific improves to 19-5 overall, 9-3 in the Big West, while Cal State Northridge falls to 12-12 overall and 6-6 in the Big West. "They did a good job all game long of taking away our attacking game," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "But that opened up things for our shooters. And our perimeter players knocked them down. They were feeling it today."
"I could tell Erica was ready to have a big night. She hit a couple tough ones with a hand in her face that were defended well. She led us tonight, and she defended tremendously, too. Kendall Rodriguez had a great night, too: Five-for-seven from three is a great shooting night; but when your teammate goes eight-for-10, you can get overshadowed."
Pacific shot 61 percent in the second half, turning a tight contest into a 20-point game with a 47-point second half. Down 35-34, Pacific drilled five-straight threes as part of a 20-7 run to take the lead for good. The Tigers tallied 19 assists on 23 field goals, as Ashley Wakefield handed out four and Kristina Johnson three. McKenzie also added four steals to go with her season-high in points.
Northridge struck first, taking an early 9-2 lead off four turnovers in the first four minutes. But Pacific responded with a 12-2 run as McKenzie canned threes from the corner and the top of the key, Kristina Johnson connected from long range and Gena Johnson's three gave Pacific a 14-11 lead.
The Matadors responded with eight-straight, leading 21-16 with 6:25 to go in the first half. Wakefield finished inside and Rodriguez hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 21-21.
McKenzie struck again from deep and Rodriguez added a three-pointer as Pacific took a 27-25 lead into halftime.
Pacific connected on seven-of-13 from three-point range in the first half. With Kenyon picking up two quick fouls in the first half and playing one minute in the first half, the Tigers tallied four points in the paint in the first 20 minutes.
Northridge tied the game with the first bucket of the second half, but McKenzie answered with a three-pointer. The Matadors snuck out in front with a pair of free throws from Janae Sharpe, but McKenzie and Rodriguez connected on back-to-back threes for a 40-35 lead. After a lay-up by Wakefield, McKenzie hit three more triples as the lead ballooned to 12, at 54-42.
Northridge pulled within single digits on a free throw by Violet Alama, but Rodriguez hit another three-pointer and Wakefield ripped a steal and heaved an outlet to Gena Johnson for an easy lay-up and the Matadors would get no closer.
Kenyon tallied inside as part of a 13-2 run, and Rodriguez's three with 3:02 remaining gave Pacific its largest lead at 21, 72-51. Alama led the Matadors with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Sharpe added 14 points.
The Tigers will visit Hawai'i next for a Saturday contest against the Rainbow Wahine. Pacific and Hawai'i tip off at 9 p.m. Pacific (7 p.m. Hawai'ian).