San Luis Obispo, Calif. – A blistering start from Cal Poly was too much for the Pacific women's basketball team to overcome, falling 74-64, to the Mustangs Thursday at Mott Gym. Junior forward Kendall Rodriguez scored 15 points with six rebounds.
Sophomore guard Sam Pettinger, making her first career start, turned in season and career highs in points, rebounds and steals. Pettinger tallied eight points and seven rebounds, and tied her career-best with three steals.
Pacific falls to 10-9 overall, 3-4 in the Big West after falling behind 20-1 in the ballgame. The Tigers rallied back to pull within three, but Cal Poly used an 8-0 run to seize control, and closed out the game at the free throw line, attempting 28 free throws to the Tigers' 14.
Kristina Santiago, who entered the game third in the nation in scoring with 24.6 points per game, tallied 25 points for Cal Poly, hitting nine of 13 from the free throw line. She also grabbed 14 rebounds.
Christine Martin added 14 points for Cal Poly (7-12, 4-3 Big West).
Sophomore guard Gena Johnson added 14 points on five-of-nine shooting, while
junior guard Erica McKenzie added seven points and five rebounds.
Cal Poly opened the game by hitting seven of its first 10 field goal attempts and holding Pacific without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, building a 20-1 lead.
Pacific answered back with a 10-1 run, as the Tigers' defense forced 10 straight misses by the Mustangs. Pacific, after starting without a field goal in their first eight attempts, connected on 12 of the next 20 attempts from the field. McKenzie and Kristina Johnson each hit runners, and a pair of free throws by Ashley Smith cut the gap to 21-9. After a block by Gena Johnson, Brianna Johnson scored off the inside spin move and a three-pointer by Sam Pettinger cut the gap to single-digits, 28-20 with 6:18 to go in the half.
After a pair of free throws from Santiago, Rodriguez posted the lay-up and Pettinger stroked another three. The Tigers held Cal Poly without a field goal in 10 straight attempts, and Claire Conricode posted a lay-up, as the Tigers capped a 28-12 run to pull within three points, 32-29.
But Caroline Reeves scored inside, and Santiago added two more free throws to restore a seven-point margin. Rodriguez answered with a three-pointer, but the Mustangs tallied the final two points of the half to take 40-32 lead into the break.
Pacific shot 43 percent in the first half (12-of-28), while the Mustangs shot 42 percent (14-of-33). But the Mustangs won the turnover battle in the first half, scoring 14 points off nine steals and attempted 15 free throws to the Tigers' six to take the eight-point halftime lead.
In the second half, Rodriguez hit a three to cut the gap to four, at 44-40. But the Mustangs reeled off eight straight points over the next four minutes.
McKenzie answered with a three-pointer, and Gena Johnson hit a pair for pull-up jumpers, but Santiago scored on an and-one attempt to restore a double-digit lead.
Rodriguez scored inside, but Santiago tallied six straight points as the Mustangs led by 17 with 4:05 to go. Johnson, who scored 11 points in the second half, tallied Pacific's final five points to trim the final margin to 10.
Junior forward Ashley Smith provided six points and five rebounds for Pacific.
The Tigers shot 36 percent for the game, while Poly connected at a 42 percent clip. Pacific held a slight edge on the boards, 45-44, but the Mustangs won the turnover battle, 21-16 and scored 21 points off 13 steals.
Pacific will continue it's four-game road stretch at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. In the Tigers' last visit to the Thunderdome, Pacific knocked off the second-seeded Gauchos in the quarterfinals of the Big West tournament. The Tigers will look to start a winning streak in Santa Barbara in the 2 p.m. contest.