Big 4th Quarter Leads Women's Hoops To WCC Tourney Win

Jenelle Grant (photo by Kyle Terada)
Jenelle Grant (photo by Kyle Terada)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -  Chelsea Lidy led Pacific with 16 points as the Pacific women's basketball team exploded in the fourth quarter for a 73-55 win over Pepperdine Thursday in the West Coast Conference Championship first round at Orleans Arena.

Jenelle Grant scored a career-high 13 points with seven rebounds, while Emily Simons and GeAnna Luaulu-Summers both flirted with triple-doubles. Simons posted 14 points with seven rebounds and a career-high seven assists, while Luaulu-Summers tallied nine points with nine assists and seven rebounds. Ameela Li chipped in 12 points to tie her career-high for the Tigers, while Jessica Blakeslee finished with six points and three steals in 16 minutes.

The Tigers advance to the quarterfinals, where top-seed Gonzaga awaits on Friday at noon.

Pacific held Pepperdine to 29.5 percent shooting, including just 3-of-18 in the fourth quarter. The Tigers out-scored the Waves 25-10 in the final frame to turn a tight ballgame into an 18-point win.

The Tigers forced 19 Pepperdine turnovers, leading to 19 points and winning the turnover margin by nine.

Simons opened the scoring for the Tigers off an assist from Lidy. After a free throw from Luaulu-Summers, Desire Finnie connected on a three for a 6-0 lead. The Tigers held Pepperdine off the board for the first 4:10 before a three from Allie Green. Lidy answered with a three and Simons ball-faked and scored inside for an 11-3 lead. Yasmine Robinson-Bacote struck back with a mid-range jumper and a lay-up as the Waves pulled within 11-9. Grant answered a Keyari Sleezer jumper with a bucket inside and then added a put-back, but the Waves tied the game on a jumper at the buzzer from Sydney Bordonaro.

The Waves took their first lead on a lay-up from Yasmine Robinson-Bacote on Pepperdine's first possession of the second. Robinson-Bacote gave the Waves a 20-15 lead before Ameela Li answered with a three-pointer. Li then picked up a steal and fast break lay-up to tie the game. Grant added an inside bucket and Jessica Blakeslee drilled a three-pointer for a 25-22 Pacific lead. After another Robinson-Bacote bucket, Luaulu-Summers converted an and-one for a 29-24 lead. Luaulu-Summers sprung Lidy with a long outlet pass for a fastbreak lay-up to cap an 11-2 Pacific run for a 31-24 lead. But Sleezer answered with a triple. Lidy recorded a steal and hit Li with another long breakout pass and a lay-up, and after a rebound by Luaulu-Summers, Lidy broke ahead of the defense for a lay-up. But Sleezer converted before the end of the half as Pacific took a 35-30 lead into halftime.

Pacific turned nine Pepperdine turnovers into eight points in the first half.

In the third, Green opened the scoring with a three-pointer for the Waves, but Lidy answered back with a jumper from the paint and a mid-range jumper for a 39-33 lead. Simons rattled home a jumper from the paint and then recorded a steal and assist on Lidy's fast-break lay-in for a 43-35 Pacific lead. But the Waves closed within 43-39. Grant provided a six-point lead from the free throw line. But Pepperdine picked up four-straight points from the line to pull within 45-43. Robinson-Bacote knotted the game at 45-45 with a pair of free throws with 1:33 to go in the third. Lidy gave the Tigers the lead back with a three-pointer as Pacific headed into the fourth leading 48-45.

Blakeslee and Luaulu-Summers hit back-to-back three-pointers for a 54-45 lead two minutes into the fourth. Green drove and finished for the Waves, but Simons drilled another Tiger three from the corner for the first double-digit lead of the game. Grant finished in the paint to cap a 16-2 run by Pacific for a 51-47 lead with 5:35 remaining. Luaulu-Summers drew back-to-back charge calls on the Waves, and then dished off to Simons for a three-pointer and a 16-point lead. The Tigers held the Waves without a field goal for the final 3:06 of the game, with Grant delivering the dagger with a corner-three for her career high and the largest lead of the game at 72-53 with 40 seconds to go. Free throws settled on the final margin.

Pacific shot 7-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-6 from three-point range in the fourth quarter, while holding Pepperdine to 3-of-18 shooting with five turnovers.

The Tigers and Waves played to a dead heat in the season series, with each meeting coming down to a single point and 17 ties and 25 lead changes. But in Thursday's contest, Pacific kept Pepperdine at arms length, leading for 34:24 with five ties and two lead changes before the Tigers ran away in the fourth quarter.

Pepperdine completes their season at 7-23 overall while Pacific improves to 10-20.

Pacific moves on to face Gonzaga, a team the Tigers defeated in Spokane back on Dec. 31, 65-63, for the Tigers second win in three years in Spokane.

Tip-off for the quarterfinal match-up is at 12:00 p.m., with national TV coverage on BYU-TV, and online at TheW.tv.