The power of speed and quickness wears down opponents in the game of women’s college basketball.
Pacific Tigers women’s basketball head coach Lynn Roberts has changed her team's entire style of play, and it showed Saturday night from the start of the opening tip-off. The Tigers opened the season with an exhibition 92-62 win over the Academy of Art Urban Knights.
The Tigers fell to 7-0 in the first two minutes of the game, but they never missed a beat by using their defensive pressure and fast break, transition game to overpower the Knights and take a commanding 48-35 lead at the half.
Pacific shot 45.2 percent on 28-for-62 shooting from the field and was led by Erica McKenzie's 14 points, Gena Johnson's 13 points and an impressive performance from reserve post player Ashley Smith.
Smith came off the bench to score 14 points in 20 minutes of playing time and also displayed excellent post moves around the basket.
The Tigers showed they have the depth to play man-to-man, aggressive defense and forced the Knights into a fast-paced, up-tempo basketball game for 40 minutes.
“Were not very big, and defensively we’ll have to apply pressure to create opportunities for us,” coach Roberts said. “We committed a lot of fouls tonight, and that really slowed down our tempo."
The Tigers' Gena Johnson is fitting into her new role of running the point guard position and is easily adjusting to playing at a faster pace than last season. Johnson has two excellent targets in athletic wings Ashley Wakefield and sharp-shooting guard McKenzie when she’s pushing the ball up the court.
The Tigers also have a lot of depth coming off the bench and received excellent play from reserves Hailie Eackles, Kristina Johnson and Brianna Johnson.
“We’ve never been legitimately deep on our bench as long as I’ve been here, and we’ve always been Band-Aid deep,” Roberts said. “We now have the kids now that can come in and play sustained minutes.”
The Tigers are pushing the ball up the floor and playing exciting women’s basketball.
Their up-tempo transition game and quick ball movement to create open shots is a complete 180-degree turnaround from last year’s style of play.
Their new style of play gives the Tigers an opportunity to wear down their opponents and play at a pace that will be interesting to watch in the Big West Conference.
The Tigers head to the East Coast to play Fairfield on Sunday, November 13 in their season opener, and then they’ll face the University of Connecticut Huskies, currently ranked No. 4 in the country, on Nov. 15.
Mike Walker is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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