Long Beach, Calif. - The Pacific women's basketball team held on for a 59-53 win over Long Beach State to improve to 22-6 and 12-4 in the Big West. Ashley Wakefield scored 15 points with six rebounds and Kendall Kenyon added 12 points while Gena Johnson added 10.
Pacific forced 25 Long Beach State turnovers, and scored 30 points of LBSU miscues. The Tigers hit eight three-pointers, including three by Wakefield and a pair from Erica McKenzie. McKenzie's two treys moved her into a tie with Nancy Dinges for second all-time in the Big West and at Pacific with 250 in her career, and provided the lead the Tigers would never relinquish early, and the dagger at the end.
Wakefield added four assists and three steals, while McKenzie recorded six steals in the contest. Pacific recorded 15 steals in the contest.
The Tigers shot 41 percent for the game (23-of-56) and took 14 more field goal attempts than the 49ers, due to the turnover margin and a 14-9 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Wakefield opened the scoring with a jumper and McKenzie added a three-pointer. Rodriguez finished while being fouled to give the Tigers a 9-6.
Pacific created 10 turnovers on the 49ers' first 17 possessions, but Long Beach State packed the paint, and the Tigers' offense couldn't create separation, holding a 16-10 lead with 11:44 to go in the first.
Rodriguez connected on a three-pointer, Gena Johnson hit a jumper and Wakefield's three from the wing gave the Tigers a 24-14 advantage.
Hailie Eackles and Rodriguez each added threes as the Tigers took their largest lead of the first half, at 30-16, but the 49ers clawed back. Alex Sanchez scored inside as part of an 6-0 run.
Kendall Kenyon scored inside and finished off a Kristina Johnson steal for four-straight Pacific points to restore a 10-point Pacific margin.
The Tigers led 34-24 at halftime, as Pacific tallied 22 points off 15 Long Beach State turnovers. The 49ers attempted just 13 field goal attempts to Pacific's 36.
Wakefield canned a pair of threes early in the second half, as the Tigers surged ahead by 15, 47-32. Gena Johnson drove to the rack with a smooth finish, and McKenzie picked off in the inbound for a quick bucket and a 51-35 lead.
Long Beach State whittled the Tigers lead down, as Devin Hudson and Lauren Spargo posted lay-ups for the 49ers. Long Beach cut the gap to seven with a 10-2 run. Hudson scored while being fouled as the 49ers cut the margin to 53-50 with 4:15 to go.
Kenyon answered with a baseline jumper and McKenzie struck for a three-pointer from the wing to give the Tigers an eight point cushion, 58-50, with 2:41 remaining and the 49ers would get no closer.
Hudson responded with an inside bucket, but the 49ers had to foul four times in order to put Pacific on the line, as eight of the first 10 fouls of the second half went against Pacific.
After a series of inbounds plays, Rodriguez eventually got to the stripe and hit a free throw, and after a defensive stop, Pacific worked the four corners to run the clock down.
With the victory, Pacific assures itself of no worse than the number three seed in the Big West Tournament. The Tigers have two games to play and hold a half-game lead on Cal Poly (11-4) for the outright title. A pair of wins would give Pacific its' first-ever Big West regular season championship.
The Tigers continue their road trip Saturday at 1 p.m. at UC Irvine.