Fullerton, Calif. - Once again, the Pacific women's basketball team closed strong, scoring 10 of the final 15 points for a 69-64 road win at Cal State Fullerton Saturday at Titan Gym. Gena Johnson led three double-figure scorers with 15 points, while Kristina Johnson didn't miss a shot, setting a career high with 11 points.
Pacific won for the first time at Fullerton since 2004, shooting 54 percent in the first half and holding on in the second after the Titans rallied to tie the game at 59-59 with 7:57 remaining. The Tigers did their damage by driving to the basket and getting to the free throw line for 29 free throw attempts, including 10 of their final 12.
Junior forward Kendall Rodriguez scored 12 points on seven-of-eight from the line, while freshman forward Kendall Kenyon grabbed 12 rebounds and scored six points. Kristina Johnson, the freshman guard, hit on all five of her field goal attempts, including an and-one, with the free throw giving her a career-best 11 points. Freshman guard Claire Conricode tied her career-best with six points, draining a pair of three, while junior Brianna Johnson added a career-high tying fie points and blocked three shots.
The Tigers improved to 5-4 in the Big West and 12-9 overall as Pacific swept the season-series from the Titans.
Pacific turned in its sixth victory with a strong run to close out a tight ballgame. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Tigers scored the final six points in a five-point win at the Spanos Center on Dec. 29.
Pacific opened at a torrid pace, hitting 10 of the first 17 field goal attempts. The Tigers jumped out to a 12-2 lead and following lay-ups by Brianna Johnson and senior center Christina Thompson, and a three-pointer from Conricode, led 26-9 with 8:39 to go in the half.
But the Titans charged back, and it was their senior guard Megan Richardson leading the way. Richardson drained a three to cut the gap to 12, and after Kristina Johnson's lay-up and free throw, scored five-straight points with a three and a pair of throws. Gena Johnson and Brianna Johnson each drove to the rack to restore 13-point lead at 38-25, but after four free throws, Lauren Chow hit a three-pointer for Fullerton to cut the margin to five.
Kristina Johnson hit a jumper in the paint before the half to give the Tigers a 40-33 lead headed into the break.
In the second half, Fullerton connected on eight of the Titans' first 12 shots, as Richardson scored while being fouled and Lauren Bushong tallied to cut the gap to one.
Ashley Smith answered with a three-pointer for Pacific to push the lead back up to four, but Richardson hit a jumper and a three-pointer from Butler tied the game at 47-47. Conricode responded with a three of her own, for a 50-47 lead and after a pair of free throws from Rodriguez, the Titans took their first lead of the game on a triple by Chow with 10:59 remaining for a 55-54 advantage.
But it was Kristina Johnson giving the Tigers the lead on a jumper from the elbow, and after a stop, Brianna Johnson tallied inside. Kathleen Iwuoha scored four-straight points for the Titans to tie the game at 59-59, but Pacific locked down on defense in the final 7:57.
After a pair of stops, Gena Johnson hit two free throws for the lead and the Tigers forced a turnover. Johnson drove to the hoop again, hitting a free throw for a three-point advantage. Off her miss on the second attempt, the Tigers got the board and Rodriguez was fouled. Her free throws restored a five-point lead and the Tigers never trailed again.
The Tigers defense held, and Kenyon hit two free throws before Brianna Johnson's rejection of Richardson on a jumper in the paint. Mya Olivier cut the gap to five, but Rodriguez hit one-of-two for a six-point edge with 2:41 to go.
Richardson made things interesting with a step-back three pointer despite tight defense, and after the Tigers missed on the offensive end, the Titans had a chance to tie.
But Pacific gave Richardson no room and her forced three-pointer was long. Kenyon hauled in the rebound and Rodriguez hit a pair of free throws with 1.6 on the clock for the five-point win.
Richardson finished with 25 points, while Kathleen Iwuoha added 10 points. The Titans fall to 9-13 overall, 2-8 in the Big West with all eight losses decided by eight points or less.
After four-straight road games, the Tigers will return home to the Alex G. Spanos Center for the first time since January 17, when they take on UC Riverside on Thursday at 5 p.m. Pacific will close the regular season with five of its remaining seven games at home.