Fullerton, Calif. - The Pacific women's basketball team fended off a late charge from Cal State Fullerton for a 67-55 win Saturday at Titan Gym. Four Tigers tallied double-figures, led by Gena Johnson and Kendall Rodriguez with 13 points each.
Kendall Kenyon added 12 points and 10 rebounds for her third-straight double-double and Erica McKenzie chipped in 10 points.
The Tigers built a 20-point lead by shooting 54 percent in the first half, but Fullerton battled their way back to within eight. Pacific's saving grace was a season-best 15-of-16 performance from the free throw line, including 13-of-14 in the second half, to keep the Titans at bay.
Pacific improves to 16-3 overall and remains in first in the Big West at 6-1. The Titans fall to 7-11 overall and 3-4 in conference after dropping their third-straight game.
The Tigers out-scored Fullerton 34-28 in the paint and 17-6 off of turnovers. The Tigers forced 18 Titan turnovers while committing just 11 miscues. Pacific posted 15 assists on their 24 field goals. McKenzie handed out five assists while Rodriguez doled out four helpers.
Pacific hit 9 of their first 11 shots, and used a 10-0 run to take a 22-12 lead nine minutes into the contest. Rodriguez hit a pair of three to spark the surge, while McKenzie added three lay-ups.
Pacific slowed down the Titans transition offense, forcing Fullerton into a half-court set. The Titans shot 23 percent in the first half, as Pacific built the lead out to 16. The Tigers connected at a 53 percent clip in the first half (17-of-32) and committed just three first-half turnover to take a 38-22 lead into halftime.
Kenyon led all players with 10 points at the break, while Rodriguez and Gena Johnson added eight.
In the second half, the Tigers lead surged to 20 following a lay-up by Johnson, with 17:29 to go. Following a jumper by McKenzie, Pacific led by 18, at 46-28, but Fullerton used an 11-2 run to tighten up the game. Brianna Barfield came off the bench and hit a pair of free throws and a jumper, while Tailer Butler's lay-in capped the run.
Claire Conricode hit a three-pointer to restore a 12-point lead for Pacific, but a lay-up from Lauren Bushong and free throws from Mya Olivier pulled the Titans within eight, 55-47, with 4:29 remaining.
McKenzie, Johnson and Rodriguez connected on six-straight free throws, but Butler and Olivier kept the Titans within eight with 1:47 to go.
The Tigers ran the shot clock down and Rodriguez delivered the dagger, striking from behind the arc with the shot clock expiring to push the lead back to 11. After a Fullerton bucket, Johnson hit the Tigers' 13th-straight free throw before their first miss. Pacific forced a turnover and Ashley Smith hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
Pacific is back in action on Thursday, against UC Irvine, in a 7 p.m. tip-off from the Alex G. Spanos Center. The contest is the first of four-straight at home, where Pacific is 9-0 this season. The Tigers will play host to Long Beach State on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 5 p.m. in a double-header with the Pacific men's team.