FULLERTON, Calif.— History was made in a big way Thursday night at Titan Gym, as Cal State Fullerton knocked off UC Santa Barbara, 46-38, marking the Titans' first win over the Gauchos since 1995.
For Fullerton (9-18, 5-10 Big West), the win signified the end of what was a 40-game losing streak, which was the second longest losing streak to a conference opponent in all of women's Division-I basketball coming into the game.
"This definitely means a lot," said a smiling head coach Marcia Foster after the win. "There have been a lot of players here at Cal State Fullerton and they've played some really good Santa Barbara teams, and tonight was no exception."
"There have been too many games this season where we've beaten ourselves," said Foster. "Right now everyone is just trying to focus and do their part, and that's what we're doing. We're just playing better basketball right now. We're still right in this."
For UC Santa Barbara (12-15, 8-7 Big West), the loss was its third in the last four games, but it snapped what was a four-game road winning streak.
Nicole Zesbit scored a game-high 12 points, but shot just 3-of-12 from the floor, as the only Gaucho to score in double figures. Four-time Big West Player of the Week Sweets Underwood grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, but was held to just six points on 3-of-9 shooting.
The Titans mustered up one of their best defensive performances in years, as they forced 18 turnovers and held UC Santa Barbara to a historic low 38 points for the ballgame. The 38 points scored is least amount of points a Fullerton opponent has scored since Dayton was held to just 33 points on Dec. 4, 1987.
"We just played really well defensively today," said sophomore guard Chante Miles. "We're playing with a lot of confidence. We just need to keep it up."
Fullerton led wire-to-wire, and already held a 9-0 advantage before UC Santa Barbara scored its first bucket with already 8:01 gone by in the contest.
The Titans would lead by as many as 10 points in the first half, after Natalie Williams knocked down two free throws to make it a 15-5 Fullerton advantage with 8:12 left in the first half.
The Titans went into halftime with a slim 23-16 lead, but continued to keep the pressure on in the second half, as Fullerton was able to again stretch the advantage to as high as 34-24 with 10:22 left to play in the game after two Thomas free throw conversions.
However, the Gauchos refused to go away, as an 11-5 run got UC Santa Barbara to as close as 39-35 with exactly four minutes to play in the contest, after Melissa Zornig knocked down two free throws.
UCSB would get no closer than that, as Cal State Fullerton closed the game by connecting on 7-of-8 free throws inside of the final four minutes to ice the game for the Titans. For the game, Fullerton shot 21-of-25 from the free throw line for a season-high 84 percent.
The Titans' chase for a postseason birth continues Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym, when they take on Cal Poly at 3 p.m. in Fullerton's final home game of the regular season.
Game Notes: 38 points allowed by Fullerton tonight is the least amount of points surrendered thus far in Big West play....the win snaps what was a 17-game home losing streak to UCSB dating back to Feb. 26, 1995...the Titans have now won back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 12 and Jan. 17 with wins at UC Riverside and vs. UC Irvine...tonight was the first time all season Fullerton didn't trail at any point in a game.