Fairfield Grinds Out Win Over Tigers, 56-47

Fairfield, Conn. –  On the road to open the 2011-12 season, the Pacific Tigers fell 56-47 at Fairfield Sunday afternoon at Alumni Hall. Junior forward Kendall Rodriguez posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Tigers wanted to dictate pace against the Stags, who take the air out of the ball for a low-possession game, and they did, but it was Fairfield's defense that dictated the victor. Pacific ran, but the Stags defense got back in transition and held the Tigers to a 28 percent shooting afternoon. Offensively, Fairfield got to the free throw line 32 times and connected on 22 free throws

Junior guard Ashley Wakefield added eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds, while sophomore guard Gena Johnson added eight points and junior guard Erica McKenzie seven.

The physical contest featured 41 fouls, 26 charged to Pacific. The Tigers attempted 16 free throws to the Stags' 32.

Desiree Pina led three Stags in double-figures with 15 points, while forward Katie Cizynski added 14 and forward Taryn Johnson chipped in 12 with 11 rebounds.

The Stags led through out, as Fairfield held Pacific to 27 percent shooting in the first half, and connected on 50 percent (10-of-20) to take a 33-25 lead into intermission. The Stags led early and throughout the first frame, as Katie Cizynski scored inside before Ashley Smith answered with a pair of buckets underneath to cut the gap to 11-10.  But Fairfield's Taryn Johnson scored five-straight points, including an and-one opportunity to establish a multiple-possession lead.

The fouls began to mount for Pacific as the Stags connected on 12 of 15 free throws to lead by as many as nine.  An and-one from Kendall Rodriguez cut the gap to 27-21 with two minutes to go before the half, but Cizynski tallied again and the final free throws of the half restored the eight-point advantage headed into half time.

Pacific opened the second half with a 9-2 run to cut the gap to 35-34, as Gena Johnson opened the second-half with lay-up, and after a pair of Fairfield free throws, the Tigers held the Stags to no field goals on their first 10 attempts of the half. Johnson added another driving bucket, while McKenzie drained a triple to cut the lead to three, before a spin move in the lane by Ashley Wakefield led to a lay-up which pulled Pacific within one, at 35-34 with 14:15 remaining.

But Pina's jumper broke the Tigers momentum and the Fairfield defense kept Pacific off the board for the next six minutes. After a bucket inside from Cizynski and a pair of free throws, Pina gave Fairfield its' first double-digit lead, knocking down a triple at the top of the key (and giving her 1,000 career points).

A lay-up from Rodriguez pulled the Tigers back within single-digits with 7:05 to go, but Felicia DaCruz's and-one play restored the cushion, and the Stags held on from the line.

Senior forward Christina Thompson out-worked Fairfield down low for an inside deuce, and three-pointers from Wakefield and Rodriquez whittled the margin down, but free throws from DaCruz and Pina enabled the Stags to run out the clock.

Fairfield, which held Stony Brook to 34 points in a 42-34 season-opening win, improves to 2-0.

Pacific will continue on their road trip with a 4:30 Pacific Time contest at No. 4 UConn on Tuesday.