Just one game into the 2017-18 season, Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball already has a quarter of its win total from its prior campaign.
After taking five games to get their first win last season, the Titans only needed one to notch their first victory under new Head Coach Jeff Harada, beating the Santa Clara Broncos 73-69 on the road in both teams’ season opener.
“I’m really happy and proud of our effort tonight,” Harada told Cal State Fullerton Sports Media. “It was such a competitive game back and forth.”
In a sloppy game that saw CSUF and Santa Clara combine for 39 turnovers and both shoot less than 50 percent, the Titans climbed ahead of the Broncos in large part due to their ability to get to the line and convert while at the charity stripe.
The Titans drew 32 free throws and shot 71.9 percent from the line compared to 26 and 61.5 percent from the Broncos, an especially big edge for the Titans in a game that was decided by 4 points.
CSUF’s free-throw shooting prowess almost didn’t matter, however, when the Titans gave up exactly the type of run that would have sunk them last season as the Broncos outscored them 29-12 in the third quarter.
“In the second half, our energy wasn’t what it was in the first half. It would have been easy for us to hang our heads after the third quarter, but we responded well and refused to lose,” Harada said.
The response Harada lauded was a 28-16 Titans advantage in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter from Titans forward Hannah Thompson that gave the Titans a 65-59 lead after the two sides were tied at 59.
Thompson wasn’t the only Titan to contribute, or even the only Titan with the last name Thompson to chip in. Freshman guard Triann Thompson tied with Hannah Thompson for team lead in scoring with 18 points, two of three Titans to finish in double figures along with Jade Vega (12 points).
During the game, seven of the nine Titans to play scored, and Harada liked the balance he saw from his team.
“Overall, it was a great team win, and I’m really happy to get a win for this program,” Harada said.