Pacific women's basketball played host to No. 15/17 Gonzaga on Thursday night in a close contest, but a strong fourth quarter from the Bulldogs was enough to overcome the Tigers at home, 63-51.
The lead changed hands 12 times and Pacific led by as much as six points midway through the second quarter, but Gonzaga's fourth-quarter effort in which it outscored Pacific 14-5, ended up being the difference maker. The Bulldogs dominated the offensive boards by pulling down 23 rebounds to Pacific's 12 to shut down many second-chance opportunities and the Tigers made just one of their 11 shots in the final quarter.
Laura Stockton and Zykera Rice, who both scored in double figures, helped spur Gonzaga onto victory. Stockton had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Rice had 13 points with seven rebounds and three steals.
On the Tigers' half of the box score, sophomore guard Valerie Higgins fell just short of a double-double with a team-leading 18 points and nine rebounds. She entered the game shooting 14% from beyond the arc, but caught fire early from distance by knocking down her first three threes. She went on to shoot 50% from long-range. Sophomore forward Brooklyn McDavid extended her double-figure scoring streak to 11 games with 11 points.
Pacific and Gonzaga battled for the first three-quarters of the contest. The two teams were tied at 14 after one quarter and Gonzaga took a slim four-point lead into the break. In the third, the Tigers outscored Gonzaga 17-16 to trail by only three points heading into the decisive quarter.
Pacific led by five points heading into the first media timeout of the game by making the most of its offensive opportunities. The Tigers shot 50% in the first quarter while Gonzaga struggled to get its offense going by making just a third of its 18 shots. Senior guard Ameela Li got the Tigers going early with a patented strip steal and layup at the other end of the floor for the game's opening bucket. She had five points in the first quarter alone to lead the team.
In the second quarter, Higgins was the one to get the Tigers going with eight points including two made three-pointers. She also had two blocks on the defensive end. Rice's seven points for Gonzaga helped her team take a lead into the break. Higgins led all scorers with 11 first-half points. She shot 4-6 from the field and 3-4 from three-point range in the half.
In the third quarter, Higgins made the most of her eight minutes on the court with four points, two assists a block and a steal while McDavid got rolling by hitting two of her three shots to help the Tigers cut the Gonzaga lead down to just three points.
In the fourth, the nation's No. 15 team put a Tiger upset to bed by locking down on defense and outrebounding the Tigers 15-8. Eight of their rebounds came on the offensive end. Both teams struggled to make shots with Pacific shooting 1-11 and Gonzaga shooting 2-13, but the Bulldogs made nine of their 10 free throws to put the game out of reach in the closing minutes.
The win moved Gonzaga into a tie for first in the West Coast Conference with No. 25 BYU, who fell on the road to Loyola Marymount. Pacific's loss slid the Tigers down to a tie for fourth with Pepperdine at 6-4 in the league. Saint Mary's won at home against Portland to take sole possession of third. Saint Mary's hosts Gonzaga on Saturday while the Tigers host Portland. A Tiger win and a Gonzaga win will move Pacific back into a tie for third with Saint Mary's and potentially Pepperdine if the waves win at home against BYU.
Saturday's game against Portland is set for a 4 p.m start and is the first half of the final Tiger men's and women's doubleheader at the Alex G. Spanos Center this season. Pacific's men play Pepperdine at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale for only $5 to both games at Pacifictigers.com/2for5.
- The Tigers and Bulldogs were tied 14-14 after one.
- Li led all scorers with five points in the quarter. She also had two rebounds an assist and a steal.
- Stockton got her night started for Gonzaga with three points, an assist, a rebound and two steals.
- Gonzaga outscored Pacific 19-15 to take a lead into the break.
- Higgins led all scorers with five points in the quarter. She also had two blocks.
- Pacific outscored Gonzaga 17-16 in the quarter.
- Stockton's eight points led Gonzaga. She had an assist and a steal as well.
- Li had two points and assisted on three Tiger buckets in the quarter.
Higgins had four points, two assists and three steals.
- Brooklyn McDavid had five points to lead the Tigers.
- Half of Gonzaga's 10 rebounds came on the offensive end.
- Gonzaga outscored Pacific 14-5 in the final quarter.
- Both teams struggled to make shots. Just three shots from the field fell for both teams.
- Gonzaga made nine of its 10 free throws.
- Gonzaga stifled the Tigers with eight offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.
- Back-to-back WCC Player of the Week, Brooklyn McDavid extended her streak of games with at least 10 points to 11. She has 17 games in double-figure scoring this year.
- Higgins scored in double figures for the 18th time this season. She was one short of tying a career high in steals with five. Her five blocks were the most she's had since coming to Pacific.
- Pacific's 51 points was a season low. The Tigers have been held under 60 points only one other time this season.
- Li's six rebounds were a season high. Her career best is eight.