Three-point shooting and a huge performance from UC Santa Barbara guard Doris Jones spoiled Cal State Fullerton’s first Big West game of the season, as the Gauchos defeated the Titans, 83-54, at the Titan Gym on Friday night.
UCSB poured it on from beyond the 3-point arc, as the Gauchos made 13 of their 30 3-point attempts. Meanwhile, Fullerton made only four of its 18 3-pointers.
Doris Jones, a redshirt senior who transferred from Houston, had a career-best 29 points on 11-for-19 shooting to give the Gauchos their first win of the season after losing six games. Freshman Ashlee Lewis led the Titans in scoring with 14 points, 12 of them coming in the first quarter, as the loss dropped Fullerton to 0-4 on the season.
The conference opener was Fullerton’s first game since a player tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 17, which forced the team to go through a 14-day quarantine period per NCAA protocols.
“After 14 days of not practicing and having one day of practice it’s definitely tough. We were rusty, it showed,” said head coach Jeff Harada.
Fullerton came into the game giving up 26.3 turnovers a game, which ranked at the bottom of the conference. Despite giving the ball up 15 times, UCSB capitalized on those turnovers, and turned them into 29 points.
The Gauchos got off to a quick start, and built a 10-0 run in the first four minutes, but CSUF flipped the script with a 16-4 run thanks to 12 points from Ashlee Lewis.
“She did a great job of sealing, getting open. We did a good job of finding her and I thought she had a really nice game,” Harada said.
Lewis credited her teammates for finding her, but said that she and her team needed to be better on communicating on the defensive end and be more aggressive on offense.
“We can push on our offense because I think our offense works really well against this defense,” Lewis said.
The Titans had another slow start in the first five minutes of the second quarter, scoring only 4 points in the timeframe. The half ended with the Gauchos in the lead, 34-25, as Lewis did not score in the second quarter. Jones had 21 points after 20 minutes and shot 4-for-6 from behind the 3-point line.
The Titans were able to cut the deficit to four in the third quarter, but UCSB got back to hitting 3-point shots to extend the lead to 15 with one quarter left. In the fourth quarter, UCSB made five 3-pointers and outscored the Titans, 25-11, to win the game by 29 points.
The two teams will meet again at the Titan Gym on Saturday at 5 p.m. and the game will be streamed on BigWest.TV. Harada said that the Titans will need to defend better if they want to get their first win.
“We got to close out on shooters, we got to care more about our individual on-ball defense. We got to understand the game plan a little bit better,” Harada said. “We got to execute better on offense and we got to care more on defense.”