ANAHEIM, Calif.—Mya Olivier swished a three-pointer from the top of the key after Tailer Butler dove to the ground and stole the ball to tie number-one seeded Pacific at 51-51 with 16 seconds remaining in the game, but the Tigers' Erica McKenzie came right down court nailed the eventual game winning three-pointer with seven ticks left, as Pacific escaped the Honda Center with a 54-51 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Tournament semifinals Friday afternoon.
The Titans got one last heave at it, as Chante Miles took the ball all the way down the lane, but clanked a lay-up off the back of the iron as the final horn sounded. However, it wouldn't have mattered in the grand scheme of things, as the Titans trailed by three at that point, not two.
Fullerton finishes the year with an overall record of 11-21 after upsetting two teams in two nights to advance to the Big West semifinals for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Kathleen Iwuoha played arguably the best game of her career, as she poured in a career-high 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Chante Miles scored in double figures for the sixth time in her last eight games, as she put up 10 points in the loss.
For Pacific (25-6), McKenzie led all scorers with 25 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range, including the game-winner. Kendall Rodriguez went for 14 points, but on just 4-of-16 shooting, to round out the double figure scorers for the Tigers.
The Titans scored the first bucket of the game, but Pacific connected on three consecutive field goals to jump out to a quick 8-2 advantage with not even three minutes gone by in the contest.
Rodriguez and McKenzie then swished back-to-back treys to really put the Titans in a hole early on, as Fullerton trailed 14-4 with 14:26 left to play.
However, the Titans clamped down defensively and held the Tigers without a field goal for a span of 10 minutes and 29 seconds, to eventually make it just a 25-21 deficit at halftime.
Fullerton kept battling in the second half, as Miles nailed a three-ball on the Titans' first offensive possession to bring the Titans within 25-24.
Fullerton never grabbed a lead in the second half, but things stayed close throughout, as the Tigers never led by more than seven points.
The Titans' free throw shooting helped keep the game close, as they shot 76.5 percent (13-of-17) from the free throw line, while Pacific connected on just 15-of-27 shots for 55.6 percent.
Game Notes: Fullerton has shot 70-plus percent from the free throw line in three consecutive contests…Fullerton ends the year scoring 50-plus points in three straight games….the Titans fall to 0-11 all-time when facing a number one seed in the Big West Tournament...Iwuoha's 15 rebounds today marked a career high, and was the most any Titan grabbed in a game this season.