Loyola Marymount dominated the glass and in the paint to snap Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball’s two-game win streak with a 77-62 victory. With the loss, the Titans drop to 2-5 on the season.
“It seems in the second half, and particularly the fourth quarter, they got down in a stance and they wanted to compete and win a game, and I didn’t see that same effort from us defensively,” said Titan Head Coach Daron Park. “I thought that their commitment to defending us and their commitment to rebounding the basketball was the one difference that I saw.”
LMU was hot right from the start, going on a 10-3 run to begin the game. The Titans battled back, going on a 9-0 run of their own spanning the first and second quarters to take a 23-20 lead.
Lathan (23 points) was the offensive hub for the Titans as soon as she came off the bench. The redshirt junior transfer dropped 16 points in the first two quarters, accounting for nearly half of the Titans’ 33 first half points.
Lathan didn’t get much help in the scoring department from her teammates in the first half as next-best scorers Jade Vega and Jordan Jackson posted five points apiece. CSUF still managed to hang tight with LMU, only trailing by one at halftime.
The Titans went down early coming out of the break, allowing a 7-0 run to start the half. Center Daeja Smith (nine points) entered the game, ending the drought with five quick points.
It wasn’t enough to stop the Lions’ onslaught. LMU outscored Fullerton 22-16 in the third quarter as Leslie Lopez-Wood dropped 10 points in the period. The Titans also turned the ball over four times in the quarter, matching their total for the entire first half.
The fourth didn’t go any better for Fullerton. Jackie Johnson (14 points and 18 rebounds) walled off in the paint for the Lions, while Makenzie Cast caught fire for 14 of her 24 points in the period as LMU pulled away.
“In the second half, I felt like is when we didn’t click,” Lathan said. “Me personally, I kept going under that damn screen and I knew I was defending it wrong.”
The Titans’ lack of size also came back to bite them against the Lions. LMU won the battle on the boards 53-35 while Johnson swatted five of Fullerton’s shots. The Lions’ rim protection also held the Titans to 29.7 percent shooting throughout the game.
“They’re big. They’re 6-foot-4, and 6-foot-2, and longer than us and taller than us,” Park said. “They battled harder, they didn’t rely just on their height. Several times, I thought we were in position to get the rebound and one little nudge and we’re out of position, and it’s just little things like that. We can’t teach us to be taller, or bigger, but we can teach us to be more active and skilled in checkouts.”
The Titans will hit the road for two games next week as they look to rebound against Eastern Washington Thursday at 11 a.m. and Portland State Saturday at 2 p.m.