Boxers tame Leopards, 66-62

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LA VERNE, Calif. — Point guard Nikki Gilbert calmly canned two free throws with 20 seconds remaining and then grabbed a key rebound with seven ticks left on the clock to help her Pacific Boxers claim a 66-62 non-conference women's basketball victory over host La Verne on Thursday night at the Sports Pavilion.

The victory gives Pacific a win in the first of a three-game southern California road trip. The Boxers improved to 4-4 on the season, while the Leopards dropped to 2-4.

Gilbert, a five-foot junior, led five Boxers in double figures with 14 points. She also had seven rebounds and three assists. Freshman forward Charli Elliott contributed a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Sarah Curl and Karli McHone had 13 points each. Kyla Siri checked with 11 counters.

It was a wild contest that was marked by a low scoring first half, a high scoring third quarter and a back-and-forth final frame.

La Verne led by as many as six points in the first quarter, before the Boxers mounted a 10-0 run that began late in that period and carried deep into the second quarter. Baskets by McHone, Elliott and treys by Curl and Siri gave Pacific a 19-15 lead. They would stretch that to 24-17 on a three-pointer by Curl with 3:24 left before halftime, but the Boxers wouldn't score again before the break and the Leopards rallied to tie the game at intermission, 24-24.

Neither team hardly missed in the third period, which saw the Leopards out-score its hosts 23-19 to take a 47-43 lead into the final quarter. Pacific would crawl back in the fourth and tie the game at 52-52 with 6:16 left on a McHone trey. Pacific would lead by as many as six points down the stretch but the Leopards rallied back and tied the contest at 60-60 with 2:25 remaining on a basket by Brianna Bishop.

But McHone would find the net from long range again moments later (2:21) and Pacific would never trail again. La Verne would pull to within a single digit (63-62) on a jumper by Noelle Cobb with 1:20 left and had a chance to take the lead after a Pacific turnover. But a blocked shot by Curl gave the ball back to the Boxers and put the hosts in foul mode, setting up Gilbert's game clinchers.

The Boxers hit 9 of 21 three-pointers on the night, with five different Pacific players finding the mark.

Cobb led La Verne with 18 points and Emily Myers just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine boards.

Pacific will return to action in less than 24 hours, taking on Whittier at 6 p.m. on Friday night.