Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball defeated the Grand Canyon University Antelopes, 60-53, in Titan Gym on Dec. 4 and earned their third comeback victory of the year.
Freshman guard Lily Wahinekapu led the way for the Titans as she posted a game-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds and five steals.
Graduate forward Carolyn Gill contributed 14 points with four rebounds and junior guard Fujika Nimmo scored 13 points, which made them the only other Titans to score in the double-digits.
The game picked up after halftime as both teams had success running the fast break and forcing defensive pressure on one another, resulting in a back-and-forth affair between the two teams in the second half.
CSUF trailed for a majority of the game while the Antelope’s press defense gave the Titans some trouble in the first half.
Fullerton later pulled ahead and managed to consistently put together defensive stops while outscoring Grand Canyon University in the second half. But the Antelopes did not go away easy as junior point guard Taylor Caldwell brought the score to 57-53 with 27 seconds left in the game.
However, after successful free throw attempts from Wahinekapu and junior guard Fujika Nimmo, as well as missed shots from Grand Canyon University, the Titans were able to pull away late in the game.
“We did a lot of the things that we had settled to do early on, but I’m just glad, you know, it took us a while, but I’m glad we did it,” said head coach Jeff Harada. “The players stepped up and yeah it was a nice win, nice comeback win and we showed what kind of team we can be on the toughness side, so I’m pretty proud of that.”
The Antelopes jumped ahead to a 10-0 lead in the opening five minutes due to their smothering full court press defense, which resulted in sloppy play and turnovers from the Titans as they struggled to get into a rhythm on offense.
The Titans began to tighten their defense toward the final three minutes of the first as they secured multiple steals as well as rebounds while also capitalizing on these turnovers on the offensive end. The Antelopes closed the quarter on a 14-11 lead and despite the very slow start from the Titans, they managed to hang around early.
The Titans struggled with turnovers and failed to gain any momentum offensively in the second quarter, as they fell by as much as 13 points halfway through the quarter.
The Titans did a good job rebounding as well as getting to the free-throw line eight times in the second quarter, but it was not enough as the Titans fell behind 32-22 at halftime.
CSUF finished the first half shooting at 20% from behind the three-point line and completed two assists while committing nine turnovers as a team.
The third quarter proved to be the turning point for the Titans as they fought hard to dig themselves out of the hole and for the first time in the game, the Titans took the lead, 43-42, after great offensive output from guard Wahinekapu and forward Gill.
The third quarter was capped off by freshman forward Aixchel Hernandez when she tipped the ball in the hoop off a missed layup from sophomore guard Gabi Vidmar, who extended the score to 46-42 heading into the final quarter where the Titans ended the game victorious.
The Titans will face the University of San Francisco Dons on Dec. 7 in Titan Gym.