Stockton, Calif. - Fresh off a win at Gonzaga to secure a 20-win season, the Pacific women's basketball team closes the regular season at home with games against Santa Clara (Thursday, 7 p.m.) and San Francisco (Saturday, 2 p.m.)
Pacific (20-7, 12-4) became the first WCC team to win at Gonzaga in almost four years, snapping the Bulldogs' 31-game home conference win streak with a 71-59 win Saturday. The Tigers won at Gonzaga after unloading a 27-4 run on the Zags over 11:54 in the second half.
Hailie Eackles keyed the run offensively with 11 of 27 points. Pacific connected on 10-of-17 shooting in the run, with seven different Tigers tallying 10 assists on the 10 field goals. Najah Queenland and Desire Finnie led a swarming Pacific defense in the run, as Queenland fought inside for two rebounds, while Finnie came up with two steals. The Tigers defense held the Bulldogs to 1-of-13 shooting with 8 turnovers to turn a 34-45 deficit into a 61-49 lead. The Tigers then hit 10-of-12 free throws to close out the win.
With the win at Gonzaga, Pacific kept pace with a tie for second in the WCC standings and now the Tigers control their own destiny for a top three finish. If the Tigers can take both games this weekend, the Tigers would finish no worse than the three-seed (if San Diego upsets Gonzaga) and would take the second seed in a tie with with Saint Mary's or a three-way tie with SMC and USD.
Pacific faces a Santa Clara squad on Thursday that enters at 10-15 overall, and 5-11 in WCC play. In the first meeting between the two teams, back on December 29, Pacific rallied from down 11 at halftime for a 61-59 win at the Leavey Center. Pacific held Santa Clara to just three field goals in the second half, as the Tigers erased a 16-point deficit and held the Broncos to 18 second-half points. Madison Parrish scored 16 points with four assists, while Kendall Kenyon tallied 15 points and eight rebounds with four blocks. Unique Coleman chipped in 13 points and four steals, while Hailie Eackles added three steals and three points.
The Tigers held Santa Clara to 3-of-31 from the field in the second half, including 17-straight misses to open the half as the Tigers reeled off a 14-2 run to take the lead. Santa Clara regrouped, and led by six, 59-53 with 5:18 to play, but the Tigers pitched the shutout the rest of the way, closing with an 8-0 run. Pacific forced 28 turnovers and turn them into 26 points.
Pacific trails in the all-time series with Santa Clara, 21-24, but Pacific has won four in a row. As members of the WCC, the Tigers are 3-0 vs the Broncos.
On Saturday, Pacific faces a San Francisco (15-12) squad that sits sixth in the WCC at 6-10. The Tigers took the first meeting back on Dec. 27, opening WCC play with a 92-54 blowout on the Hilltop. Kendall Kenyon scored a season-high 27 points with 15 rebounds and six blocks, while Unique Coleman added 13 points and a career-high five assists in her first career start. Madison Parrish added 11 points and seven assists. GeAnna Luaulu-Summers chipped in 11 points. Erin Butler hit a trio of three-pointers to finish with nine points. Najah Queenland added a (then) career-high seven points. Kristina Johnson handed out four assists with three steals to go with four rebounds and five points.
Eackles sat out the first meeting with USF, but the Tigers will be playing Saturday's contest without Coleman.
Pacific is 15-17 all-time against San Francisco, but the Tigers have won five in a row in the series. As members of the WCC, the Tigers are 3-0 vs the Dons.
Following Saturday's game, the Tigers will honor its senior class of six. Claire Conricode, Gena Johnson, Kristina Johnson, Kendall Kenyon, Marjorie Heard and Madison Parrish comprise the Tigers' all-time winningest class. The Tigers have averaged over 20 wins in the last four seasons, with 83 victories and counting. Pacific set a program record for wins in 2012-13, and are tied for the second most wins in a season entering the weekend.