Tigers Make History, Top UCR On Senior Day

Pacific's 2013 Senior Class - Photo by Patrick Giblin
Pacific's 2013 Senior Class - Photo by Patrick Giblin

Stockton, Calif. - The Pacific women's basketball team set a program record for wins on senior day, as senior Kendall Rodriguez turned in a double-double, and seniors Erica McKenzie (15) and Ashley Wakefield (14) scored in double-figures in a 74-66 win over UC Riverside.

Rodgriguez hit her first four field goal attempts and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists. McKenzie added a trio of three-pointers and four steals while Wakefield shot six-of-nine for 14 points.

Junior Shanice Butler added nine points and four boards while Gena Johnson and Kristina Johnson each chipped in six points. 

Senior forward Brianna Johnson grabbed four boards and handed out two assists, while fellow senior forward Ashley Smith added three rebounds and a blocked shot.

Pacific improved to 21-6 overall and 11-4 in the Big West with the win. The Tigers will have three regular season games and the Big West Tournament (as well as any post-season tournament games) to add to the program's winningest season ever.

Rodriguez hit a pair of threes as the Tigers raced out to an early 9-3 lead, but the Highlanders answered back with three straight buckets. With the game tied at 11-11, Pacific reeled off eight consecutive points, including five from Wakefield. Butler added a put-back as the Tigers led 21-11 with 11:07 left in the first. 

The two teams played even the rest of the way until McKenzie nailed her first triple of the game at the 3:49 mark, putting Pacific up 34-24. Butler put the Tigers up by 11 on a pair of free throws with 1:18 on the clock, but UCR closed the first half on a 5-0 run to pull to within six, 37-31, at the break.

Rodriguez led Pacific at intermission with 11 points on four-of-six shooting, while Wakefield and Butler each added seven, and Kenyon and McKenzie five apiece.

The Tigers shot 40 percent in the first half (14-of-35) to the Highlanders' 38 percent (14-of-36).

Pacific maintained its advantage over the visitors through the first seven minutes of the second half, going back up by 11 on McKenzie's three-pointer with 13:07 to play. The visitors would score 12 of the next 14 points, however, to pull to within one, 52-51, with 10:07 left.

After a Pacific timeout, the Tigers rediscovered their rhythm as Kristina Johnson answered with a baseline drive, and Wakefield and Claire Conricode tallied in the paint for a 58-53 Pacific lead with 8:47 to go. After Nottingham scored, McKenzie hit a three to provide a six-point cushion, 63-57, before Rodriguez found a cutting Wakefield for an easy lay-in. Riverside trimmed the gap to four with 3:04 remaining on a pair of free throws, but Gena Johnson kissed a pull-up jumper off the glass for a 67-61 lead.

With under two minutes to play, McKenzie hit a floater and, after the Tigers got the stop on defense, connected on a pair of free throws. Akilah Martin hit a three for the Highlanders to cut the gap to five with 16 seconds left, but junior Sam Pettinger drained three free throws to secure the win for Pacific.

Crain and Nottingham combined to score 49 of UC Riverside's 66 points as Crain finished with 25 points while Nottingham poured in 24. Crain added 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double while Nottingham racked up seven steals.

Pacific will now hit the road for the final three games of its regular season as it looks to secure a top seed at the Big West Tournament in March. The Tigers will open its final road trip against Long Beach State at the Walter Pyramid Thursday, Feb. 28. Game time is set for 7 p.m.