CSUF women’s basketball looked set to capture its third win of the season on Monday night against the Santa Clara Broncos. The Titans jumped out to an 11-2 lead at home after the first quarter, and appeared on their way to an easy win.
Then the Broncos’ offense erupted.
Santa Clara outscored CSUF 20-10 in the second quarter, and while the Titans continued to battle the rest of the way, their seven turnovers in that period — and 26 total for the game — ultimately proved to be their undoing in a 64-60 overtime loss that dropped the team to 2-3 on the year.
“26 turnovers in an overtime game (you lose by) four points, that’s tough to swallow,” said Titans head coach Jeff Harada. “Hopefully we’ll just learn from this and move on.”
In order to move on, limiting turnovers won’t be the only issue CSUF will have to focus on. The team didn’t get their first free throws until late in the fourth quarter and didn’t shoot them well once they got to the line, going 3-for-6 on the evening.
“It’s a lot of different things. Making free throws, turnovers, defense, rebounds,” said senior guard Hannah Thompson.
None of the missed free throws were more critical than Thompson’s two misses with 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Titans holding a tenuous 54-53 lead. The Broncos intentionally fouled Thompson to make sure they got the ball back with enough time to either win the game or send it to overtime. Thompson missed both and looked upwards with regret as she walked to the bench after Santa Clara took a timeout.
It was an unfortunate way to close what had otherwise been a strong night for Thompson, who drained six of her eight 3-point attempts on the evening.
“Everyone wants to play well, but a win would’ve been even better,” Thompson said.
After Thompson’s two misses, Ashlyn Herlihy cut to the basket for a layup off of the Broncos’ inbounds play, finishing easily at the rim to take a 55-54 lead as Titans center Daeja Smith was focused on guarding Broncos forward Lauren Yearwood.
Smith answered by drawing a foul on the other end. Smith — who scored 9 points and snatched 13 rebounds on the evening to become one of just eight players in Titans history with 900-plus points and 650-plus rebounds — surely wished she had scored just one more point, going 1-2 at the line to tie the game at 55, sending the game to overtime after the Broncos couldn’t hit at the other end.
The final period went down to the wire, but when Titans forward Carolyn Gill saw her shot roll out with CSUF down 62-60, the Titans were forced to foul. Broncos guard Tia Hay — who finished with a game-high 20 points — made both of her free throws to ice a win for Santa Clara.
The Titans know that to avoid similar results in the future, they won’t just have to clean up their mistakes. They’ll also have to quit settling into complacency when ahead.
“I think they just came out more fiery than we did,” said Titans freshman forward Amiee Book. “I feel like it’s just getting into the right mindset. Not taking anything for granted and just pushing hard the whole time.”