Stockton, Calif. - The Pacific women's basketball team posted a 70-57 win over San Francisco behind a career-high 25 points from Desire Finnie and 23 from Hailie Eackles Wednesday at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
The Tigers overcame a shooting slump early on to unload a 22-4 run to close the final 6:09 of the first half, and closed the game with a 21-8 run after USF scrambled back to tie the game at 49-49 with 7:20 to go.
Pacific forced 21 turnovers and turned them into 23 points while slowing a high-power USF offense, out-scoring the Dons 13-2 in transition. Najah Queenland drew the primary defensive assignment on USF leading scorer Taylor Proctor, who entered the contest with 22.1 points per game, 13th in the NCAA. Queenland and the Tigers limited Proctor to a season-low 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting. Queenland also added nine points and six rebounds.
USF entered averaging 75.9 points per game, 44th in the NCAA, but the Tigers held them four points under their previous season-low.
The Tigers improve to 8-5 overall, 1-1 in West Coast Conference action while the Dons fall to 9-4 overall, 0-2 in WCC play.
Finnie connected on two of three at the start, to open with a 7-2 lead, but the Tigers fell into a 1-of-19 shooting slump as the Dons led 12-10 after one quarter. Pacific's drought continued as USF took a 16-10 lead, but Eackles canned back-to-back three-pointers to start a 22-4 run over the final 6:09 of the second quarter. Finnie posted a put-back and the Tigers defense forced turnovers, 13 in the first half, as the Tigers built a 12-point lead by halftime. Eackles hit six free throws after being fouled while attempting a three on two separate occasions, while Finnie mixed in a three-pointer with her mid-range jumpers.
The Tigers shot just 26.5 percent in the first half, but led 32-20 at the break, with Finnie and Eackles each posting 15 points while Unique Coleman had the only other Pacific points of the half.
In the third quarter, the Dons chipped away at Pacific's lead as Zhane Dikes scored seven points in the quarter and the Dons tallied 12 points in the paint. But Queenland curbed the USF momentum with a three-pointer for a 43-36 lead with 3:14 to go in the quarter, and Coleman added a lay-up. Still, the 21-14 third quarter by USF narrowed the Tigers' lead to 46-41 with one quarter to play.
Dikes opened the fourth with a lay-up and a jumper from Hashima Carothers cut the Tigers lead to 46-45. Eackles answered with a three-ball, but after Dikes' free throws and a jumper from Rachel Howard, USF had fought back to knot the game at 49-49 with 7:20 to play.
The Tigers took over from there as GeAnna Luaulu-Summers knocked down a three-pointer and then picked up a steal leading to a lay-up from Emily Simons to restore a five-point lead. Simons added a fast-break lay-up for a 7-0 Pacific run and the Tigers pulled away again.
After Proctor finished inside, the Dons held the Tigers on the other end for most of the possession, but with the shot clock winding down, Queenland was forced into a quick-release three-pointer from well behind the arc. The net didn't even move as Queenland's shot lightly kissed the back rim and dropped through for a momentum triple which restored a eight point lead at 59-51 with 4:44 to play.
Pacific forced five-straight USF misses before Eackles gave the Tigers a 10-point lead with a lay-up with 2:13 to go. Proctor added a pair of free throws, but Finnie converted at the rim, and Queenland's steal and fast break lay-up slammed the door on the Dons.
The Tigers hit five free throws in the final 1:06, including a Finnie's third and-one of the game, before Michaela Rakova hit the final bucket with four seconds left to settle on the final score.
Pacific hit 14-of-15 free throws for the game, including Eackles' 6-6 and Finnie's 5-of-5. Finnie also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, while Simons, Queenland and Mauriana Clayton each grabbed six. Luaulu-Summers handed out eight assists while Eackles dished out four, with Queenland and Simons providing two helpers each.
The Tigers will break for the holidays and then head to San Diego on Dec. 31, for a 4:00 p.m. tip-off with the Toreros before a New Year's Day contest at BYU.