Cal Poly Nips Pacific, 62-59

Cal Poly Nips Pacific, 62-59

Stockton, Calif. - The Pacific women's basketball team fell for the first time at home this season, as Cal Poly escaped with a 62-59 win at the Alex G. Spanos Center Thursday. Cal Poly held Pacific to just seven points in the Tigers' final 17 possessions to sweep the season series.

Ashley Wakefield led the Tigers with 14 points and tallied seven rebounds. Kendall Kenyon grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked three shots, but the Big West's leader in field goal shooting converted two-of-seven from the field for four points to see her double-double streak snapped at five. Gena Johnson tallied 12 points with a pair of assists, while Erica McKenzie added 11 points, three assists and four steals.

Pacific (18-4 overall, 8-2 Big West) led by as many as 12 with 3:11 to go in the first half. But the Mustangs shot 48.6 percent in the second half, and out-scored the Tigers 32-14 in the paint in the final 20 minutes.

The Tigers had a chance for a game-winning shot and game-tying shot in the final 20 seconds, but committed a costly turnover and couldn't draw a foul or draw even on their final shot.

Ariana Elegado led Cal Poly (13-8, 7-3 Big West) with 15 points, while Molly Schlemer scored all 12 of her points in the second half and Nikol Allison added 10 points and nine rebounds.

Pacific was seeking revenge for its only conference loss, a triple-overtime 96-95 decision at Cal Poly on Jan. 12. But the Mustangs found a way to knock off the Tigers again.

Allison, the 6-5 Schlemer, Jonae Ervin and Kayla Griffin combined for 32 of Cal Poly's 47 rebounds, as the Mustangs held a 47-37 advantage on the glass.

Gena Johnson opened the scoring with a lay-up for Pacific, but the Mustangs responded with a Caroline Reeves three pointer and took a 7-4 lead. Johnson and Brianna Johnson converted lay-ups as the Tigers took a 10-9 advantage.

A Claire Conricode three and Shanice Butler inside bucket gave Pacific some breathing room at 18-13.

An acrobatic Kristina Johnson lay-up, and a pair of inside scores from Wakefield jumpstarted a 10-2 run. McKenzie hit back-to-back threes as the Tigers led by 12, 32-20 with 3:11 to go before halftime.

But the Mustangs tallied the final five points of the half, on a three-pointer by Beth Balbierz and a pair of Ashley Cascio free throws.

Wakefield and McKenzie led the Tigers with eight first-half points. The Tigers held Cal Poly to 24 percent shooting in the frame (eight-of-34) while converting at 41 percent himself (12-for-29). Pacific held Schlemer, who hit 14-of-17 for 28 points in the first meeting, scoreless in the first half.

Kenyon and Schlemer traded baskets inside to open the second half. Schlemer scored the first eight points of the half for Cal Poly, but McKenzie converted an and-one as Pacific held a 39-33 advantage.

Nikol Allison posted a pair of lay-ups as Cal Poly surged with a 12-4 run to draw even at 43-43 with 13:45 to go. The Mustangs took a 50-49 lead on an Allison lay-up, but Kendall Rodriguez drained a three-point to put Pacific back up top.

Cal Poly hit three-straight shots to take their largest lead at 56-52 with 4:41 to go. Pacific clawed back to within one three times, but the Mustangs defense stepped up.

Gena Johnson's steal and lay-up brought Pacific within one, at 56-55. Elegado and Wakefield traded jumpers, and after the Tigers came up empty, Elegado tallied again for a 60-57 Cal Poly lead.

Pacific recorded three-straight stops and Kristina Johnson took it to the basket to cut the gap to 60-59 with 18 seconds left.

After the Tigers fouled, Griffin missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Ervin stole the outlet pass in the backcourt, and hit a pair of free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining.

The Tigers got the ball to McKenzie, moving towards the hoop at the top of the key in the final seconds. She drew contact on her three-point attempt to tie at the buzzer, but the whistle never came despite pleas from the Tigers' bench.

Pacific's home win streak was snapped at 12 straight, two shy of the program record. Pacific is 11-1 at the Spanos Center with three home games remaining, and can tie the school record for the most home wins in a season with one more home victory.

The Tigers will face UC Santa Barbara on Saturday in a 4 p.m. tip-off.