Las Vegas, Nevada - The Pacific women's basketball team opens the West Coast Conference Championship with a Thursday Noon tip-off against Pepperdine at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
The Tigers are the eight seed and will meet the nine-seeded Waves in the First Round.
On her Senior Day, First Team All-WCC selection Hailie Eackles tied her career high with 28 points, her 10th career 20 point game, and set a new career high with five steals against Santa Clara. Eackles has tied or set a career high in steals in each of the last three games. Desire Finnie earned All-WCC Honorable Mention honors as she has scored in double figures in 16 of the last 25 games, including four new career highs and five 20+ point games. Finnie is averaging 13.2 PPG since moving into the starting lineup one game into the WCC season.
Pacific swept the regular season series with Pepperdine, rallying for a 65-62 win at home in the Spanos Center on Jan. 7, and blowing out the Waves in Malibu, 92-64, on Feb. 13.
The Tigers entered the fourth down four at home to Pepperdine, but Pacific hit 7-of-14 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line in the final quarter, outscoring the Waves 27-20. Four Tigers scored in double-figures as Desire Finnie led Pacific with 15 points and a career-high tying nine rebounds. GeAnna Luaulu-Summers scored 11 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter while Emily Simons and Hailie Eackles each added 10 points.
At Malibu was a different story, as the Tigers dropped a 24-14 second quarter for a 40-26 lead at halftime. Eackles finished with 21 points and four assists, draining six three-pointers and reaching the 1,000 career point mark. Luaulu-Summers added 16 points with eight assists, while Finnie chipped in 15 points and five assists. Mauriana Clayton posted her second of three double-doubles on the year, with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Emily Simons hit four-for-four from the field for eight points while Najah Queenland added nine rebounds in the contest to go with three points. Tylah King scored a career-high four points, while Whitnee Wehi made her season debut and added a bucket and an assist.
The Waves enter the WCC tournament at 6-22 overall, after finishing 2-16 in conference play. The Waves have dropped four in a row since an upset win over Saint Mary's on Feb. 11. Pepperdine is led by All-WCC First Team and All-Freshman team selection Erica Ogwumike. She leads the Waves with 18.4 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game to go with seven double-doubles. However, her status is unknown as she has missed the last three contests for Pepperdine.
Pacific finished tied for seventh in the WCC regular season at 6-12, but dropped to the eighth seed as Loyola Marymount won the tie-breaker with wins over Pacific in double overtime and at the buzzer this season. In total, seven of the Tigers 12 conference losses were decided by three possessions or less. The Tigers finished the regular season 13-16 overall and 6-12 in WCC action.
The Tigers are 6-0 against Pepperdine since joining the West Coast Conference, sweeping the season series in each of the last three years. The Waves' last win in the series came in 2002.
The winner of Pacific and Pepperdine will advance to the quarterfinals and meet top-seed BYU on Friday, at noon. The Women's tournament takes Saturday and Sunday off before the semifinals on Monday. Should Pacific advance to the semis, the Tigers would feed into the noon semifinal on Monday leading up to Tuesday's 1 p.m. WCC Championship game.
The first three rounds of the West Coast Conference women's tournament will air nationally on BYU-TV with free, HD streaming available on TheW.tv. The championship game will air on ESPNU and online at WatchESPN.com.