Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team dropped its fourth straight game in conference play 72-63 to Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday.
CSUF trailed by only one point at the half, but the Titans 18 second-half turnovers gave Cal Poly the possessions it needed to close the game out on top.
“Regardless of what press break we’re in, we still got to be more poised under pressure. We have to take care of the ball better and understand that it’s going to be tough,” said Titans Head Coach Jeff Harada.
Both sides played physically from the start. A combined 21 fouls were called in the first half, and the Titans went to the free throw line 16 times, five short of their 21 average attempts per game in conference play heading into the match.
“We knew they were aggressive defensively and we wanted to be aggressive by penetrating, driving and hopefully drawing some fouls, and I thought we did that,” Harada said.
CSUF started the second half on a 9-0 run led by Daeja Smith, Jade Vega and Hannah Thompson. When momentum had seemingly shifted in the team’s favor, Cal Poly met them with 10 straight points to regain the lead at 43-41.
In that period alone, the Titans turned the ball over nine times.
Thompson recorded a career-high 22 points in the loss and led both teams in scoring. She gave credit to her teammates for her success despite only sinking one 3-pointer in the game.
“Being a shooter, people close out really hard on me so that opens up driving lanes a little more. We ran other plays for me a couple times to get a good backdoor pass from our post who made a great pass to me,” Thompson said.
Although she fouled out, Smith finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. She still sits second in the Big West for double doubles (8), despite failing to do so against the Mustangs.
She believes her impact as a defender is minimalized when the referees blow the whistle as constantly as they did against Cal Poly.
“It’s tough. Rather than putting your hands on them, you have to play straight up defense and hope the refs are in your favor,” Smith said.
With her on the bench due to foul trouble in the second half, the Mustangs were able to control the glass on both ends. The team grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the second half and finished the game with 15 total.
“Giving up the amount of offensive rebounds we gave up, giving extra possessions, you can’t give a team like that 15 extra possessions to score, especially when they have one of the highest scoring players in the conference,” Harada said.
CSUF will look to snap its four game losing skid at Titan Gym against UC Irvine on Wednesday Jan. 31 and will be televised on ESPN3 at 7 p.m.