WBB @ UCI

CSUF guard Anniken Frey facilitates the offense in the Titans matchup against UC Irvine at the Bren Event Center. (CSUF Athletics)

Fresh off picking up their first Big West conference victory of the season last week against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team’s momentum came to a crashing halt as they were swept on the road against UC Irvine on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, the Titans suffered a tough loss in a back-and-forth first game of the series against the Anteaters. Fullerton lost, 71-58, after Irvine outscored the Titans, 26-11, in the fourth quarter, due in most part to a 20-2 run by the Anteaters.

Despite shooting an effective 61% and 50% in the first and second quarter respectively, UCI could not manage to get a huge lead on the Titans throughout the first half. The Titans did not lead once throughout the first half of the game.

Fullerton guard Gabi Vidmar’s ability to knock down 3-pointers in crucial moments helped keep the Titans in the game as they were only down 36-30 going into the second half.

In the second half, the Titans came out firing on all cylinders with a 10-0 run highlighted by a pair of three-pointers by Fullerton guard Anniken Frey to give Fullerton its first lead of the game. CSUF’s tough defense, led by forward Joy Krupa, forced the Anteaters to shoot 14% in the third quarter which was a big dip from their efficient first half.

Fullerton’s biggest lead of the game came with a little over a minute left in the third quarter as the Titans held a 47-40 lead over UCI. 

The Anteaters pulled away from the Titans in the fourth quarter after UCI forward Sofia Locandro dominated the paint and her ability to get to the free-throw line. Seven of Locandro’s 13 points came from free throws. 

Fullerton tried to put together one more run as it cut the UCI lead down to six with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter, but the Titans ability to regain the lead slipped away as UCI guard Kayla Williams hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead and clinched the win for the Anteaters.

Williams led the game in scoring, and provided 14 points along with four assists and three steals. Anteater guard Haleigh Talbert had a big night coming off the bench with 13 points and four rebounds.

Frey led the Titans with 12 points along with a team-high six assists, while Krupa added six points to go along with her 11 rebounds and three steals. 

On Saturday night, CSUF put up a valiant effort, but UCI’s 25 points from the bench players was too much for Fullerton as they lost, 68-60.

In the first half, the Titans grabbed their only lead of the game early in the first quarter as Fullerton forward Katheryn Neff hit one of her three 3-pointers of the first quarter to grab an early lead. 

After that quick lead, UCI took control of the game and did not look back as Anteaters guard Chloe Webb dominated the Titans with a double-double, a game high 17 points and 10 rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, Fullerton was down by 22 points with three minutes left in the game and instead of running out the clock, the Titans were able to cut the lead in half.

Fullerton forward Carolyn Gill led the Titans with 16 points and nine rebounds and added two steals, while Neff had a season-high 13 points in the game.

The pair of losses have confirmed that the Titans will finish last in the Big West this season and will be forced to play a first round postseason play-in game against a team yet to be determined on March 9 at 12 p.m.

Fullerton returns to Titan Gym on March 5 and March 6 for its final series of the regular season against UC San Diego at 5 p.m.

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