SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Titans overcame a rough third quarter and took down Santa Clara 73-69 in their season opener on the road Saturday night.
"Really happy and proud of our effort tonight," said head coach Jeff Harada. "It was such a competitive game back and forth. The first half we did all the small things really well that gave us the lead. But in the second half our energy wasn't what it was in the first half. It would have been easy for us to hang our heads after the third quarter, but we responded well and refused to lose. Overall, it was a great team win and I'm really happy to get a win for this program."
Freshman guard Triann Thompson was the top performer for the Titans as she put up an impressive 18 point/7 rebound/5 assist performance in her first official collegiate game. Junior transfer Hannah Thompson shared the scoring lead with Triann as she put up 18 points of her own. Junior guard Jade Vega also contributed 12 points in the win, and was stellar defensively collecting a team-high five steals. The team's lone senior, China Henderson led the way on the boards as she pulled down 10 rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end to go along with four steals. Freshmen Xinavane Foreman and Carolyn Gill were also big in the victory, collecting eight and six points respectively to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks each,
For the Broncos, Emily Wolph led all scorers with 27 points, shooting 7-13 from the field. Taylor Berry was second in scoring for Santa Clara as she put up 14 points. Morgan McGwire came up two rebounds shy of a double-double for the Broncos as she contributed 11 points and eight rebounds.
Titans got the scoring started early as freshman Ashlee Ane found H. Thompson underneath for the easy layup on the first possession of the game. From there, the teams battled back-and-forth. Fullerton dominated the boards 16-5 in the quarter and would lead at the end of the first thanks to a layup by T. Thompson in the final 20 seconds.
The second quarter consisted of some great defensive pressure by the Titans and continued dominance on the glass. Led by Vega and Henderson, the team forced seven turnovers, six of which were steals and finished the half doubling Santa Clara in rebounds. Fullerton ended the quarter on a 9-2 scoring run giving them a nine-point lead going into halftime.
Fouls and turnovers plagued Fullerton in the third quarter and shifted the momentum tremendously. Following a 12-3 scoring run by the Broncos to start the half, the Titans started to slow down the Santa Clara offense but not enough. In the quarter, CSF was outscored 29-12 and trailed by eight to end the quarter.
The fourth quarter was by far the most intense. The Titans quickly erased the deficit and it was a brand new ball game with five minutes to play. Around the three-minute mark, H. Thompson knocked down consecutive three-pointers and that marked the turning point. From there, the teams went back-and-forth exchanging buckets, but the Titans had an answer to anything the Broncos would do. The Titans were money from the strike down the stretch shooting 9-10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and held on for the 73-69 victory.
Fullerton will travel up to Stockton, Calif. to take on the University of the Pacific on Monday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm PT.
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