Free Throws Lift Titans to 68-62 Victory Over Highlanders for Third Straight Victory

Jan. 14, 2006

Box Score

FULLERTON, CA - Cal State Fullerton's Audrey Taylor hit two free throws to break a 57-57 tie, and the Titans were 6-for-6 at the line down the stretch to help lift Fullerton to its fifth-consecutive victory at home, 68-62, over visiting UC Riverside in a Big West Conference women's basketball match-up on Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym.

The Titans won their third straight contest in improving to 5-10 overall and 3-2 in league play. Fullerton is now 5-1 at home this season and 3-0 at Titan Gym in Big West play.

The Highlanders fell to 4-10 overall, 1-4 in Big West Conference play, and remained winless on the road at 0-7 away from the Student Recreation Center.

The contest would be decided at the free throw line as the Titans, who entered the weekend leading the Big West Conference in free throw shooting at .704, hit 16-of-18 in the second half and 20-of-24 for the game to ice the victory.

UC Riverside, for comparison, hit only 17-of-26 (.654) from the line for the game, including 9-for-16 (.563) in the second half.

No two free throws were bigger, however, than Taylor's, who hit a pair with just over three minutes to go to break at 57-57 tie and give the Titans a two-point advantage. That kick-started an 11-5 run to close out the game as sophomore Tamaiya Smith hit a three-pointer to give Fullerton a 64-59 lead with 2:08 to go.

After a short jumper by UCR's Kemie Nkele cut the lead to three, the Titans' Andrea Adams stole the ball on an inbounds pass, and dished it to freshman Toni Thomas, who converted the lay-up for the 66-61 lead and Fullerton never looked back.

Nkele made 1-of-2 from the line with :23 remaining, but Taylor nailed the final two free throws of the game six seconds later to ice the victory.

After UCR opened the game with a three-pointer by freshman Amber Cox, the Titans went on a 13-2 run to build their largest lead of the game at eight points with 12:28 left in the first half.

The Highlanders battled back to within two on a basket by Roney Friend and tied it at 20-20 on a pair of free throws by Cox.

Neither team led by more than two the rest of the period as Riverside took its first lead of the game on a turnaround jumper by sophomore Kemie Nkele with 1:27 left, and a pair of free throws by Nkele with 14 seconds left gave the Highlanders a 31-29 advantage at halftime.

Fullerton's rally was kick-started by a stellar second half from Smith, who scored all of her 13 points after the break on 5-of-10 shooting to share the team scoring lead with Thomas, who had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Junior Charlee Underwood, who entered the game as the Titans' leading scorer at 13.3 points per game, was held to just nine for the contest, snapped a streak of seven consecutive games in double figures.

UC Riverside was led inside by Nkele, who scored 25 points and grabbed six rebounds in her first game back after missing the team's last six contests with an injury to her finger. Freshman Amber Cox added 16 points and seven rebounds in the loss.

The Highlanders shot just over 45 percent from the field for the game to the Titans' 32 percent, but Fullerton held a 46-30 advantage on the boards, including a 24-6 tally on the offensive end.

Cal State Fullerton returns to action on Thursday (Jan. 19) as the Titans hit the road to face Long Beach State at the Walter Pyramid at 7:30 p.m.