Irvine, Calif. - Smothering second half defense propelled the Pacific women's basketball team to a 65-53 win at UC Irvine Saturday as the Tigers held the Anteaters to 17 second-half points and 19 percent shooting in final 20 minutes.
Down by eight, Pacific reeled off a 26-5 Pacific run by holding UC Irvine to a 1-for-22 shooting stretch, including 16 straight misses.
The first-place Tigers improve to 23-6 overall and 13-4 in the Big West.
Gena Johnson led the Tigers with 17 points, while Kendall Kenyon added 12 points and eight rebounds and Kendall Rodriguez chipped in 10 points. Erica McKenzie hit three treys for nine points and Kristina Johnson added four assists and three steals.
Pacific shot 52 percent in the second half on 13-for-25 shooting, while the Anteaters connected on six-of-31 in the second half, 19 percent.
Irvine opened with the first five points before Kenyon tallied inside. Wakefield and Hailie Eackles drove for lay-ups as the Tigers tied the game 11-11. Gena Johnson scored on a put-back and took it to the rack to give the Tigers their first lead at 19-17 with 8:01 to go in the first.
McKenzie hit a three-pointer for a 23-21 lead, but Camilie Buckeley scored inside and Pernilla Hanson hit a three for UC Irvine.
After a Kenyon lay-up and a forced turnover, McKenzie tied the game at 28 with another three from the wing. Wakefield and Jasmine Bernard traded baskets, and Buckley scored in transition to give the Anteaters a 32-30 advantage.
The Tigers had a basket waved off on a shot clock violation and Irvine hit a jumper to close the half with an 8-0 run.
UC Irvine shot 48 percent in the first half, while the Tigers connected at a 39 percent clip. Pacific forced 11 first-half turnovers but missed the first nine attempts from three-point range. For the half, the Tigers connected on two of 11 from behind the arc, both by McKenzie.
Buckley led all scorers in the first half with 13. The balanced Tigers had four players with six points at intermission; Kenyon, McKenzie, Wakefield and Gena Johnson.
Johnson drove for two, Rodriguez hit a three-pointer, and Johnson finished off a McKenzie steal as Pacific cut the gap to 40-39 three minutes into the second half.
Rodriguez banked it a baseline runner, and McKenzie added a three-pointer as a 13-1 run gave Pacific a 45-41 lead with 13:35 remaining.
Kenyon scored back-to-back buckets, and she and Gena Johnson tallied blocks on the defensive end as the Tigers led 49-43.
Sam Pettinger knocked down a three pointer and after a steal at midcourt, Johnson finished to give Pacific its first double-digit lead at 56-45. After a Johnson lay-in, Irvine ended a 6:10 drought with a three, but Johnson answered right back to restore a 12 point lead with 1:48 to go.
Pacific knocked down heir free throws to settle on the 65-53 margin.
The Tigers will wrap the Big West regular season at UC Davis on Saturday, with a 4:30 p.m. tip-off in Davis.