Pacific Women's Basketball Opens WNIT 7 p.m. Friday Against UALR
The Pacific women's basketball team will open the 2013 WNIT at home 7 p.m. Friday against UALR in the Alex G. Spanos Center. Tickets are free for Pacific students, thanks to an underwriting donation from ASUOP and members of Pacific's Fastbreak Club.
The Tigers (25-7) earned an automatic bid to the WNIT by virtue of winning the Big West Conference outright. Pacific is back in the WNIT after a second-round appearance last season, when the Tigers posted the program's first post-season tournament victory at home in the first round over Arizona State.
"We're excited to have the opportunity to continue our season," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "It's been such an enjoyable year with this group of players, I don't think any of us wants to see this season end. We want to keep working hard together in practice as long as possible."
Pacific placed its' starting five on the regular season All-Big West teams, with seniors Kendall Rodriguez and Erica McKenzie earning First Team honors, junior Gena Johnson and sophomore Kendall Kenyon being named to the Second Team, and senior Ashley Wakefield earning honorable mention accolades.
Johnson and McKenzie collected Big West All-Tournament honors last weekend after propelling the Tigers to the championship game. McKenzie averaged 18 points in Pacific's two games, including 25 points versus Cal State Fullerton. McKenzie shot 44-pecent from the field and 50-percent from three-point range, hitting seven of her 14 three-point attempts. Johnson was the Tigers' high scorer against Cal Poly, going for 14 points, and she averaged 11.5 points in the two games.
The Tigers are 13-2 at home this season and added to the program record for wins in a season with their 25th in the Big West semifinals This year's squad will also set the program record for win percentage (.758 or better), topping the .741 mark of the 1980-81 team.
UALR (24-8) won the Sun Belt Conference West Division, and fell to Middle Tennessee State in the SBC title game. The loss to MTSU snapped a 13-game win stream for UALR. The Trojans have made five-straight post-season tournaments, including the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons.
"They're a very good team. It's going to be a challenging game for us," Roberts added. "As a program, UALR has had a lot of success, and they have really been playing well the last two months of the season. I think both teams will be eager to face someone who isn't as familiar with them as conference opponents are."
Pacific and UALR will be meeting for the first time in the history of the programs.
The winner of Friday's game advances to the second round of the WNIT and will face the winner of Eastern Washington at Washington (which is scheduled for Friday evening as well). Date and site for the second round will be announced following Friday's action.