Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific women's basketball team opens the 2012 Big West Tournament Tuesday, Mar. 6, at 7 p.m. with a quarterfinal game at UC Davis. The Tigers will look to advance to the semifinals for the second consecutive season and 10th time in program history.
"We have a nice mix of experienced players that know what postseason play is all about," head coach Lynne Roberts said. "The postseason definitely sees a heightened level of intensity, and we'll need their leadership as that intensity rises."
Pacific enters as the tournament's fifth seed by virtue of a three-way tie for third place in the league standings. The Tigers finished third with a 9-7 conference record, as did UC Irvine and UC Davis. The Big West tiebreaker gave UC Irvine the No. 3 seed as the Anteaters owned a 3-1 record against UC Davis and Pacific. The Aggies swept the season series from the Tigers, giving them the fourth seed.
The Tigers' third-place finish was the program's highest since the 2003-04 campaign. Pacific's nine conference wins are the most since the 2007-08 season, and the second-most since the 2003-04 season. Head Coach Lynne Roberts guided the Tigers to 16 wins on the year, the most since the 2002-03 season that saw Pacific finish 16-14.
Pacific and UC Davis first met on Saturday, Jan. 21, in a matinee contest at the Pavilion. The Tigers trailed by eight points with five minutes left before pulling to within two on a pair of triples from junior forward Kendall Rodriguez with 37 seconds left. Pacific was able to get a stop on the defensive end but Rodriguez could not convert her three-point attempt as the Aggies made six straight free throws in the final five seconds to win, 59-51.
The second meeting took place at the Alex G. Spanos Center on Saturday, Feb. 25. Pacific led by as many as eight points in the second half, gaining a 38-30 advantage at the 15:16 mark. The Aggies would not go away, however, using a 12-4 run to turn a 54-50 deficit into a 62-58 lead with 28 seconds left. Junior guard Erica McKenzie brought the Tigers back to within one, 62-61, on a contested three-pointer with 21 seconds remaining. After a Pacific timeout, the Tigers were whistled for an intentional foul, giving UC Davis two free throws and the ball with 11 seconds left. The Aggies made three of their four free throws to seal the comeback win, 65-61.
"UC Davis is a very good team," Robert said. "They are very consistent with their system and do a great job with their changing defenses. Both games came down to late runs in the final moments, but the fact that this is a rivalry game and a postseason game will make for a fun match up."
The winner of Tuesday's contest will move on to the semifinals at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday. The semifinals will be re-seeded based on which four teams advance.