BERKELEY, Calif.- Cal State Fullerton's Alex Thomas stole the basketball with 16 seconds to play in regulation, giving the Titans a chance to upset heavily favored Georgetown Friday afternoon, but the Hoya's Vanessa Moore denied an entry pass intended for the Titans' Lauren Bushong with five seconds left to clinch the 53-51 victory for Georgetown in the opening round of the Cal Classic.
Cal State Fullerton (2-3) forced two turnovers and outscored the Hoyas 5-0 in the final minute of regulation to nearly cap-off what was a furious rally from a 19-point halftime deficit. Chante Miles put in 17 points and eight rebounds while Brianna Barfield sported 10 points of her own, as the only two Titans to finish with double-figure points.
Georgetown (4-1) was guided by usual suspect, senior guard Sugar Rogers, who went for 22 points on 9-of-7 shooting, while collecting eight rebounds and four steals, marking her fourth 20+ point performance in five games played this season.
As crazy as the game ended, the beginning was just as unusual. Fullerton owned a 1-0 lead before the ball had even tipped off due to a technical free throw awarded and made by Miles because Georgetown failed to submit its lineup card in time.
The Titans led 2-0 less than two minutes into the game, but then the Hoya's slowly nursed an 18-9 run over the first 10 minutes to take control of the game.
Rogers then took over for the Hoyas, as she outscored the entire Titan team 18-16 for the first half, going 7-for-13 from the field and 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. Stingy Georgetown defense held the Titans to just four points for the final 7:57 of the first half, outscoring Fullerton 17-2 over that span.
The Titans shot a season-low 16.1 percent for the half on 5-of-31 shooting from the floor, resulting in a 35-16 halftime deficit.
Things didn't look much better for Fullerton coming out of the gates in the second half, as the Hoyas worked their lead to a game-high, 39-19 margin with 16:59 remaining in the game, after Andrea White muscled in a lay-up from under the basket.
But it was Fullerton's defense that would allow it to claw back into the game, as the Titans scored 17 points off of 14 forced second-half turnovers and held Rogers to just four points the rest of the way.
No one else found a rhythm offensively for the Hoyas, as they were held to just 10 points offensively over the final 10-plus minutes of regulation.
A mid-range jumper by Lauren Bushong, followed by a corner trey by Brianna Barfield, brought the Titans to within two with 44 ticks left.
Neither team would score the rest of the way, as Fullerton's furious comeback fell just short.
The Titans have now dropped two consecutive games for the first time this season.
Fullerton will try and get back in the win column, as it will take on the Eastern Washington Eagles Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in the Cal Classic consolation game.
Georgetown will take on host, No. 11 California for the Cal Classic championship, as it defeated Eastern Washington, 91-58, earlier Friday.