Long Beach, Calif. – Junior guard Erica McKenzie led all scorers with 22 points, sophomore guard Gena Johnson tied her career high with 19 points, and junior forward Kendall Rodriguez added 17 points and nine rebounds as the Pacific women's basketball team defeated Long Beach State, 73-68, Tuesday, Feb. 28, in a Big West tilt at the Walter Pyramid.
McKenzie made eight of 16 shots, including five threes. Johnson matched her career high behind a 6-of-9 shooting performance, including a 7-of-9 mark from the free throw line. 13 of Rodriguez's points came in the second half.
"I am really proud of our team," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "This was only Long Beach's third loss at home this season. I thought we really controlled the first half and shot the ball extremely well in the second half."
Pacific (15-11, 8-6 Big West) jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead less than three minutes into the game, forcing a 49er timeout. McKenzie opened the scoring with a lay-up before collecting a pair of assists on buckets from Kenyon.
The Tigers went up by as many as eight, 14-6, before Long Beach State (11-17, 6-9 BWC) converted five straight points, cutting Pacific's lead to three at the 11:56 mark. A turn-around jumper from senior Christina Thompson momentarily stopped the run, but the 49ers' hot streak continued, as the hosts tied the game at 16-16 with 10:29 left in the half.
After a Pacific timeout, the Tigers responded with a 12-3 run spanning almost six minutes to take a 28-19 lead at the 4:41 mark. Long Beach State was able to reduce Pacific's lead to one, 32-31, at the 1:41 mark before Gena Johnson finished an and-one lay-up to give the Tigers a 35-31 halftime lead.
Rodriguez extended the Tigers' lead to nine, 40-31, on a three from the right corner early in the second half before Long Beach answered with six points to cut Pacific's lead to three at the 16:58 mark. A bucket from McKenzie and a triple from sophomore Sam Pettinger put the Tigers up eight with 14:47 remaining.
The 49ers managed to tie the game at 54-54 on an and-one lay-up at the 8:47 mark before taking their first lead of the game, 59-58, with 6:41 left to play. Rodriguez put the Tigers back on top, 61-59, with her third trey of the game two minutes later before Long Beach took back the lead on another three-point play with 3:33 remaining.
McKenzie nailed back-to-back threes to give Pacific a three-point advantage, 67-64, at the 2:20 mark. After the hosts hit one of two free throws, Gena Johnson drew a foul on a drive, netting both free throws to spot the Tigers a 69-65 lead with 1:48 remaining. Long Beach State came up empty on its next possession, but was able to force a Pacific miss before calling timeout with 54 seconds left.
The 49ers made one of two free throws, cutting the Tigers' lead to three, 69-66, with 35 seconds remaining. After the hosts fouled, Pettinger managed to make the second of two charity throws before Long Beach converted a lay-in to pull to within two with 29 seconds left. The 49ers waited more than 15 seconds to foul, and Rodriguez calmly drained three free throws to seal the win.
Long Beach State was led by senior Tipesa Moorer's 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Tigers return to the court Thursday, Mar. 1, when they welcome UC Santa Barbara to the Alex G. Spanos Center for a 7 p.m. Big West counter.