Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball saw its first win in over a month after defeating UC Riverside 71-62 in Titan Gym on Thursday but could not maintain momentum as it lost Saturday to Cal Poly 63-56 on the road.
After trailing by 11 at the half, the Titans outscored the Highlanders by 20 points for the remainder of the game, thanks to 16 second-half points from junior guard Jade Vega.
“I think it all started from our defense: getting deflections, getting steals and getting them out of their press break. Getting them to speed up a little bit is what sparked our offense and our easy baskets,” Vega said.
The Titans’ 15 turnovers held them back in the first half. After cutting the deficit to 1 point at the top of the second quarter, they gave the ball to the Highlanders on back-to-back possessions, which created two buckets and an elongated lead.
Titans Head Coach Jeff Harada halftime speech must’ve been effective because the Titans looked like a different squad in the second half. They went on a 9-2 run to start the third quarter, prompting a Highlander timeout.
CSUF outscored Riverside 26-8 in the third behind 17 combined points from Vega and Hannah Thompson.
“It kind of put into perspective the things we really needed to be better at in the second half, which was taking care of the ball because we had 15 turnovers at halftime and in the second half, we only had six,” Thompson said.
The Titans did not let up in the fourth quarter. Despite having their lead cut to 2 points near the end of the game, the intensity remained.
“We didn’t stop playing no matter what the score was. We stayed tough, we finished plays, we stretched it back out and made free throws when we had to,” Harada said.
This game marked CSUF’s first victory since Jan. 11, when it defeated Long Beach State at home.
In the match against the Highlanders, the Titans sported pink jerseys in support of breast cancer awareness. Harada believes the meaning behind their uniforms sweetened the taste of victory for the team.
Harada considered keeping the pink jerseys for the rest of the season because they delivered a win but ultimately said the team would switch back to its original jerseys against Cal Poly. He might reconsider that decision after the loss to Cal Poly in Mott Athletics Center.
Fullerton again trailed at the half but used a 20-16 third quarter to climb within 1 point of a tie game. After six lead changes in the fourth, the Titans could not convert in the final two minutes, missing all five of their attempts from the field.
Center Daeja Smith finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds in the contest, her 11th double-double of the season, the second most in the Big West. Thompson and Vega also had 13 points each.
The Titans will host No.1 in the Big West UC Davis on Thursday, Mar. 1 in their second to last game of conference play.