Stockton, Calif. - Pacific slammed the door on a potential Nevada comeback as Erica McKenzie scored eight points in a minute to help the Tigers pull away for 72-63 win. McKenzie finished with 19 points Thursday night in the Tigers' home opener at the Spanos Center. She was one of four Tigers in double-figures as Pacific improved to 3-0.
Sophomore forward Kendall Kenyon added 15 points while Kendall Rodriguez and Gena Johnson each hit chipped in a dozen.
In a game of runs, the Tigers took the lead for good in the first half, and then the two teams traded surges. After Nevada rallied to pull with one at 54-53 with 6:06 remaining, McKenzie drained a triple from the wing, scored a fast-break layup and dropped another three to cap an 8-1 run and give the Tigers some breathing room. Pacific then ran out the clock, holding the Wolf Pack at bay from the free throw line.
The Tigers held Nevada to 29 percent shooting for the game (18-of-62), while connecting at a 38 percent clip (24-of-63). Rodriguez, Johnson and Kenyon each pulled down seven rebounds to co-lead Pacific. Johnson also added six assists, a mark which was higher the the Wolf Pack's team total. Pacific handed out 16 assists to Nevada's four.
The Tigers (3-0) have yet to trail in the second half this season. Nevada falls to 1-1 on the young season.
"We're lucky to get the win. We didn't play our best but got the win against a tough, scrappy Nevada team," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "Erica McKenzie hit big shots like she's done for four years and give us a comfortable enough lead for the final minutes. A win is a win, but we know we have to do better offensively."
Pacific led 19-10 after 11 minutes as Wakefield and McKenzie hit three pointers that served as the bookend of an 11-0 Pacific run.
Kenyon and Gena Johnson each tallied on lay-ups inside as the Tigers led by as many as 12, but Nevada made their way to the free throw line, hitting 12-of-14 to remain within striking distance.
A four-minute field goal drought by the Tigers enabled Nevada to pull within 28-26, as the Wolf Pack's Channelle Brennan drove for a pair of lay-ups. Pacific answered back with a 6-0 run to close the half and take a 34-26 into the break.
The Tigers held Nevada to 24 percent shooting in the first half (7-of-29). Pacific connected on 12-of-33 from the field (36 percent) and tallied 18 points in the paint. Kenyon and McKenzie led Pacific with eight points at intermission while Gena Johnson added seven in the first frame.
Rodriguez hit back-to-back jumpers in the paint as the Tigers re-established a 10-point lead. Pacific led by 13 with 10:44 remaining, at 52-39. But the Wolf Pack answered with a 9-0 run to make it a 53-50 game with 7:19 remaining.
Danika Sharp hit a three-pointer for Nevada to bring the Wolf Pack within one with 5:46 to go.
Beginning at the 5:02 mark, McKenzie scored the Tigers' next eight points, with a pair of three-pointers, to fuel an 8-1 Pacific run.
Four free throws from Sharp closed the Tigers advantage to 62-58 with 2:21 to go. But Gena Johnson and Rodriguez each hit a pair of free throws and the Tigers came up with a steal on defense and McKenzie finished with a floater in the paint for a 10-point lead with 1:12 to go. The Tigers salted it away from the free throw line.
Sharp led Nevada with 19 points, while Brennan tallied 13.
Pacific will face Santa Clara on Tuesday at the Spanos Center in game two of a four-game home stand. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.