FULLERTON, Calif. – In a game dominated by fouls from both sides, Fullerton came out on the wrong side of 72-63 loss despite junior Hannah Thompson setting a new career-high with 22 points.
"I thought we did some really good things tonight when we played with poise and were under control," said head coach Jeff Harada.
H. Thompson put up her 22 points on 6-13 shooting from the field and 9-9 from the free throw line to go along with five rebounds. Junior Daeja Smith finished with 15 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Junior Jade Vega was the third and final double-figure scorer for the Titans on Saturday night with 12 points along with six rebounds and team-high three assists.
The Mustangs saw four players reach double-figures. Dynn Leaupepe finished with 18 points despite being held to just four points in the first half. Devin Stanback put up 14 points on 7-13 shooting. Lynn Leaupepe had 13 points while Ayzhiana Basallo had 11 points off the bench.
Fullerton took a quick 4-0 lead straight out of the gate, but would not able to hold onto it. The teams battled back-and-forth with three lead changes and three separate ties throughout the quarter. The first quarter established the storyline of the game as the Mustangs committed eight fouls giving the Titans 12 free throw attempts in the first 10 minutes of play. However, CSF would trail by four at the end of the quarter.
Eight points from H. Thompson would lead the Titans on a well-fought second quarter. The early foul trouble forced Cal Poly to tone it down on defense and Fullerton took advantage outscoring the Mustangs 18-15 and a layup in the final 30 seconds dropped the deficit to a single point for the Titans going into the break.
Harada said, "We were pretty good doing the little things in the first half like boxing out and taking care of the basketball."
The Titans came out of the break on fire opening up the second half on a 9-0 run to take an eight-point lead around the halfway mark of the third quarter. However, the Mustangs would start their full court press and Fullerton couldn't handle the pressure. Cal Poly would respond with a 10-0 run of their to reclaim the lead and continued to have the hot hand going into the fourth.
Unfortunately for the Titans, Cal Poly's offense continued to shoot the ball well in the fourth shooting 50% from the field. While the Mustangs committed nine fouls resulting in a perfect 8-8 from the line for Fullerton, CP never hindered. With the deficit reaching as many as 13 points with under two minutes to play, the defensive pressure proved too much for the Titans as they dropped their fourth straight game.
Harada also went on to say, "We came out in the second half and had a nice run to start the quarter, but lost our composure when they started pressing. We have to be better under pressure and cannot have 18 turnovers in the second half when you're fighting to win the game. Taking 20 less shots didn't allow us many opportunities to make another run. It comes down to mental toughness and I need to do a better job of instilling that in our team."
For the game, there was a total of 50 fouls between the two teams with Cal Poly committing 29 and Fullerton committing 21.
The Titans will play their first of two TV games of the season in their next contest when UC Irvine comes to Titan Gym. The game will be televised on ESPN3 with tip-off at 7:00 p.m.
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