Pacific Tigers finding offensive rhythm

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With Madison Parrish and Kristina Johnson slinging the ball around, the Tigers’ offense has been thriving.

Pacific women’s basketball, powered by the duo’s combined eight assists per game, return home following a successful tropical trip, beating Hawaii on the road Saturday as Parrish had four assists.

Parrish leads the West Coast Conference in assists and Johnson is fourth, fueling an offense that’s also benefited from 3-point sharpshooting.

Pacific’s Erin Butler is 19th in the NCAA in 3s made and 37th with a 47-percent shooting clip.

And the Tigers are 19-5 when the junior Butler hits multiple treys in a game. Butler got help from fellow junior Hailie Eackles against Hawaii, as Eackles posted 13 second-half points and drained three 3s.

“Through the first few games, she’s been the best 3-point shooter in the league, which is a great accomplishment,” Tigers coach Lynne Roberts said. “Hailie Eackles can shoot too and score off the dribble. I think we have a good balance with those five.”

Roberts added that forward Kendall Kenyon, a senior from St. Mary’s averaging a team-high 13 points, has been pivotal in the post.

Gena Johnson, a senior from Elk Grove, has returned this season after missing 2013-14 recovering from a head-on car collision. Johnson’s ankles, pelvis, right hip, left femur, left arm and jawbone all were broken in the accident, but she’s miraculously returned to basketball, averaging over 5 minutes per game.

I feel like we have not even come close to reaching our stride yet, which is a good thing.
— Lynne Roberts

“She’s doing awesome. I honestly think her role will continue to increase as the year goes on,” Roberts said. “She’s probably our best passer right now, and has the best on-the-floor instincts.”

Pacific opens WCC play at USF on Dec. 27, and Maritime is its only NAIA opponent this season. The difference between NCAA and NAIA teams is usually size, Roberts said, which is irrelevant in the Tigers’ case.

“We’re not a very big Division I team, so it kind of gets negated in that sense,” said Roberts, whose Tigers have two players over 6 feet tall. “Shooting is usually about the same, and competitiveness is about the same.”

Pacific finishes its non-conference slate with four games in eight days, including hosting Utah State on Tuesday and competing in the Long Beach State Tournament Dec. 19-20.

“I feel like we have not even come close to reaching our stride yet,” Roberts said, “which is a good thing.”

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