Fullerton, Calif.: Pacific Women’s Tigers came back from being 12 points down in the second half, but their rally fell short as they lost to Cal State Fullerton 72-67.
The Tigers were in a Big West dogfight at Cal State Fullerton, and freshman guard Gena Johnson (Elk Grove, Calif.) scored a career-high 28 points including 11 for 11 from the free throw line in 27 minutes for Pacific.
But it wasn't enough as the Titans held on for a victory. Kendall Rodriguez contributed 12 points and 5 rebounds for the Tigers.
Johnson committed her second foul seven minutes into the game and was forced to sit out the remaining 13 minutes of the half.
“I think we did well defensively,” Johnson said. “We just made a few mistakes down the stretch and needed a few to calls to go our way.”
The contest was very physical from the start leading the officials to whistle 44 fouls, including an intentional and a technical foul that caused the Tigers to lose their leading scorer.
Danielle Peacon, who was ejected at the 12:52 mark in the second half with the Tigers trailing 54-42, and Pacific’s head coach Lynne Roberts went to her bench and found a spark in junior Christina Thompson.
Thompson came in and filled the void scoring 8 points in a 12-minutes span. Thompson finished with 10 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
The Tigers went on a 19-6 run led by Johnson, who scored 11 points and put the Tigers back into the lead 61-60 with 4:36 left to play.
The Titans responded with a 12-6 run, and they were led by junior guard Megan Richardson, who scored a game-high 29 points, including eight points during the 12-6 run, which was the key to the victory.
Richardson carried the Titans, scoring six straight points and converted two critical free throws with 24 seconds to play.
Fullerton led by as many as 12, but Thompson and Johnson refused to surrender to the Titans. Thompson was able to score a pair of buckets with strong inside moves against defenders.
Johnson nailed a three-pointer and Pacific cut the Titans lead to five points, 56-51 with 7 minutes remaining in the game.
The Tigers were unable to contain Richardson, who took over for Fullerton down the stretch to give the Titans the lead for good. Junior Lauren Chow converted a crucial one-and-one with 39 seconds to play giving the Titans a 70-65 advantage.
Johnson was fouled by the Titans' Alicia Crisp driving to the basket, and she converted both free throws closing the gap to 70-67, but the Tigers allowed six seconds to expire off the clock and Johnson was forced to foul Richardson, who converted both free throws for a final score of 72-67.
Pacific never was able to knock down shots consistently, shooting just 25 percent in the second half, but still managed to battle back from being 12 points down and finished shooting 33 percent from the field.
Pacific falls to 7-19 overall and 4-9 in the Big West, while Cal State Fullerton improves to 9-18, 5-9 in the Big West.
The Tigers return home to host UC-Irvine at the Alex G. Spanos Center in a must-win game on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Senior Day activities will lead off the Tigers match-up with UC-Riverside on Saturday prior to the 4 p.m. game.
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