Rodriguez, Thompson Pace Pacific Past SIUE, 78-68

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Stockton, Calif. – Junior Kendall Rodriguez scored a career-best 24 points to go with 12 rebounds, and Christina Thompson added 18 points as the Pacific women's basketball team pulled away from Southern Illinois Edwardsville, 78-68,  Saturday afternoon at the Alex G. Spanos Center.

The Tigers jumped out to an early 17-7 lead and after the Cougars fought back to tie the game at 30-30, Pacific closed the first half with a 15-6 run to take a nine-point edge into halftime. The Tigers never trailed in the second half, leading by as many as 12.

Pacific (2-3) connected on a season-high 28 free throws (in a season-high 37 attempts), and tallied 21 points of 20 SIUE turnovers.

Junior Ashley Wakefield added eight points and eight rebounds, while junior Erica McKenzie chipped in eight points and four assists, while sophomore Gena Johnson scored seven points off the bench to go with three blocked shots.

Sophomore Sam Pettinger knocked down a pair of three-pointers for six points and added a pair of steals.

The Tigers recorded 12 steals and posted seven blocked shots in the contest, as freshman Kendall Kenyon rejected two shots in four minutes of action.

Rodriguez, who bested her previous career high of 21 points (at Monmouth, Nov. 22, 2009), connected on four-of-six from three-point range and eight-of-nine from the free throw line. With 12 rebounds, four on the offensive end, she posted her third double-double of the season, and sixth of her career.

Five of Wakefield's eight rebounds came on the offensive end.

Pacific forced seven turnovers on SIUE's first 11 possessions, building a 17-7 lead, but the Cougars responded with a 9-0 run to cut the gap to one. McKenzie hit a jumper to restore a three-point lead, and after a turnover, Gena Johnson's lay-up put the Tigers up six, 25-19, with 9:43 left in the half.

SIUE tallied seven unanswered to take their first lead of the game since 3-1, but McKenzie's free throws put the Tigers back on top, and they never trailed agan. SIUE's Katie Conner and Pacific's Kristina Johnson traded free throws to give the Tigers a 31-30 lead, and the Tigers never looked back, closing the half on a 15-6 run.

Pacific got to the line for 22 first-half free throw attempts, sinking 18. Rodriguez paced the Tigers at the break with 14 points, including eight from the charity stripe. Thompson tallied 11 points in nine minutes of first-half action while fighting foul trouble.  

The Tigers were out-shot 44 percent to 40 percent in the first half, but forced 15 SIUE turnovers, leading to 17 points.

In the second half, SIUE took care of the ball, with only five turnovers in the final 20 minutes. The Tigers led the whole way, as SIUE drew to within five, only to see Rodriguez knock down a jumper to restore a three-possession advantage. A lay-up by Gena Johnson gave the Tigers a double-digit lead at 56-45, and a lay-in by Thompson stretched the margin to 12 with 9:50 to go in the game.

The Cougars mounted a final charge, with four free throws and then a jumper from Michaela Herrod to cut the gap to four, at 68-64. But the Tigers' responded with a three from Rodriguez, a block by Kristina Johnson, and a lay-up from Thompson to stretch the advantage to nine with 3:15 to play.

Following a lay-up from Raven Berry, the Cougars pulled within seven, but would get no closer than 73-66 as McKenzie and Thompson each hit a pair of throws and the Tigers ran out the clock on their second-straight win.

The Tigers shot 41.5 percent for the game (22-of-53), while hitting six of 15 three-point attempts. The Cougars connected on 37.7 percent (23-of-61).

SIUE (3-2) was led by Herrod and Katie Hempen, with 15 points apiece while Herrod led SIUE on the glass with nine boards.  Each team totaled 40 rebounds in the contest.

Pacific will visit Nevada (2-2) on Wednesday, for a 7 p.m. tip-off against the Wolfpack before returning to the Spanos Center for a Friday, Dec. 9, meeting with Florida (6-1) at 7 p.m.