Davis, Calif. – The Tigers never trailed as the Pacific women's basketball team defeated fourth-seeded UC Davis, 59-51, Tuesday, Mar. 6, in a Big West Tournament quarterfinal game at the Pavilion.
Sophomore guard Gena Johnson led all scorers with 17 points while grabbing eight rebounds and blocking three shots. Junior forward Kendall Rodriguez notched a double-double behind 14 points and 10 rebounds while sophomore guard Sam Pettinger added 10 points.
Pacific asserted its will early, taking a quick 6-0 lead on a triple from Rodriguez followed by one free throw from Gena Johnson and a second-chance lay-up from freshman Kendall Kenyon. UC Davis managed to get on the board with a three-pointer but the Tigers responded with four more points to take a seven-point lead, 10-3, at the 17:02 mark.
Equally impressive was Pacific's defensive effort in the opening half as the Aggies managed just six points in the first 12-plus minutes. UC Davis made just two of 12 field goals during its drought while committing 10 turnovers.
While the Aggies' offense was sputtering, the Tigers expanded their lead to nine, 15-6, on a rebound put-back from junior Ashley Smith with 11:01 left in the half. Gena Johnson kept Pacific's run going with an off-balance lay-up before the Aggies ended their scoring drought with a free throw from Kasey Riecks at the 7:11 mark, trimming the Tigers' lead to ten, 17-7.
Gena Johnson gave Pacific its largest advantage of the game, 20-7, after converting a three-point play at the 5:05 mark. UC Davis continued to come up empty on the offensive end while sophomore Sam Pettinger drained a fast-break trey from Gena Johnson to spot the Tigers a 23-7 lead with 3:09 left in the first half.
Samantha Meggison hit UC Davis' first field goal in more than 11 minutes before Hannah Stephens made one of two free throws to cut Pacific's lead to 10, 23-10, at the 1:30 mark. The two teams traded baskets as the Tigers took a 26-13 lead into the break.
The Aggies' 13 first-half points were the lowest points scored in a half against Pacific this season. UC Davis made just 17-percent of its shots in the first frame, good for the Tigers' second best defensive field goal percentage in a half this season.
UC Davis opened the second half scoring six of the first eight points, but the Tigers' were undeterred, responding with a 6-0 run to take a 34-19 lead at the 17:40 mark. The two squads played even before Pacific reeled off four straight points to take a 42-25 lead with 13:04 left in the game.
The Tigers would take a 16-point lead, 44-28, at the 10:49 mark before the Aggies scored seven consecutive points to get back to within nine, 44-35, with 8:14 remaining. McKenzie quickly gave Pacific its double-digit lead back, banking in a three-pointer, but UC Davis remained on the offensive, crashing the glass and converting a lay-up to get to within eight, 47-39, with 6:42 left.
The Aggies cut even further into Pacific's lead after Blaire Shinoda converted a back-door lay-up at the 3:42 mark. Gena Johnson answered with a tough runner over the outstretched hands of a UC Davis defender to put the Tigers back up by eight, 49-41, with 3:19 remaining. Pacific came up with a huge stop after which Gena Johnson made a pull-up jumper with four seconds left on the shot clock, putting the Tigers on top, 51-41, with a little more than one minute left.
Just as it seemed the Tigers had given themselves a comfortable lead, UC Davis made a three-pointer to get back to within seven. After Pacific made two of four free throws, the Aggies drained another triple with 44 seconds left, cutting the Tigers' lead to six, 53-47. Rodriguez secured her 10th rebound of the game on UC Davis's last-ditch attempt, draining both free throws to seal Pacific's victory.
Pacific will now travel to Anaheim for a Big West Tournament semifinal contest versus sixth-seeded UC Santa Barbara. That game is scheduled for Friday, Mar. 9, at the Honda Center with a tip-off at 2:30 pm approximately, following the noon tilt between top-seed Cal Poly and seven-seed Long Beach State.
NOTES: The Tigers' 13-points allowed in the first half were the Tigers' best defensive effort of the season by points, topping the 15 allowed to UC Santa Barbara in a home victory. The Tigers' field goal percentage defense was one missed shot off the best defensive half of the season by percentage (Air Force shot 4-of-24 in the second half on Dec. 22 in the Spanos Center)... The Tigers advance to the semifinals for the second-consecutive season. The Tigers, who swept both meetings with UC Santa Barbara this season, won on UCSB's home floor last season in the semifinals... Erica McKenzie has 70 three-pointers on the season, tied for the third most in a single season at Pacific. She is four back of tying Selena Ho's mark of 74 in the 1999-2000 season.