The Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team (10-17 overall, 4-10 Big West) tumbled to its third straight defeat Saturday night, falling once more to rival Long Beach State, 69-62.
The loss marks the third straight to the 49ers, with the last Titan victory over Long Beach coming nearly a year ago on Mar. 1, 2014.
Long Beach (21-7 overall, 8-6 Big West) came out of the gates with full-court pressure, forcing many early Fullerton turnovers. The Titans turned over the ball five times in their first six possessions. Head Coach Daron Park said he was frustrated because the coaching staff knew Long Beach would press early, but his players weren’t aggressive enough to counter the strategy.
“It’s so unusual and interesting because we knew it was coming. We had all the pieces in place to attack it the right way, but for whatever reason the decision was made not to attack today,” Park said. “If you’re passive against them, then you get into trouble.”
After going down early, 7-0, the Titans finally got their first points of the match nearly four minutes into the game from a Chante Miles layup.
Miles tied the game at seven with a 3-pointer at the 13:53 mark of the first half to spark the Titans offensively. Another Miles 3-pointer three minutes later gave Fullerton their first lead of the contest at 12-10.
The Titans would take their largest lead of the match when senior guard Tailer Butler drained a shot from downtown, putting the Titans ahead by five points.
However, Fullerton struggled to find points over the next six minutes, allowing Long Beach to regain the lead with a 16-2 run. The 49ers did not give up the lead from that point on.
Sophomore guard Samantha Logan put in a layup at the buzzer to take the Titans into halftime down 32-28.
In the second half, Fullerton brought the score within two on two separate occasions, but they would not be able to tie the game. Every run the Titans made was immediately quelled by the 49ers with some timely shooting.
“They made big shots. Kids that are role players for them stepped up today and wanted to win a game,” Park said. “I can’t tell you how many three’s they made with two seconds on the shot clock … They were excited to be here and that’s exactly what killed our momentum every single time.”
After Long Beach opened a 13-point advantage, the closest Fullerton would get was five points.
“I keep hoping and waiting for our kids to latch onto that feeling of what it feels like to compete so hard and to win something that you just want to do that over and over again,” Park said. “Long Beach had that today, and we didn’t.”
Miles would finish with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, while Logan chipped in 17 points by hitting five 3-pointers on nine attempts. Senior forward Kathleen Iwuoha grabbed 13 boards to go with her seven points.
Long Beach was paced by three double-digit scorers, including Lauren Spargo (17), Hallie Meneses (16) and Cecily Wilson (12).
The Titans will get their chance to rebound from this tough loss when they travel to UC Irvine Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We got to try to find that hunger. We got to try to play hard like that. We got to try to understand that this still matters,” Park said.