Titans Topple Tigers in Physical Battle, 72-67

Feb. 19, 2011

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FULLERTON, CA - Cal State Fullerton junior Megan Richardson scored a game-high 29 points, including eight points during a game-clinching 12-6 run, to help lead the Titans to a physical 72-67 victory over Pacific on Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym.

The two teams combined for 44 total fouls, a technical foul, an intentional foul, and a pair of ejections, but Fullerton (9-18 overall, 5-9 in Big West Conference play) closed strong after the Tigers (7-19, 4-9) rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to take the lead with 4:36 to play.

A 19-6 run by Pacific over an eight-minute span brought it all the way back after it looked as if the Titans would run away with the contest following a 10-2 run that turned a four-point advantage into a 12-point lead at 54-42 with 12:52 to play. That run was capped by a three-point play from Richardson after which both the Tigers' Danielle Peacon and Fullerton's Yvont'e Neal were ejected after both players got into it underneath the hoop following Richardson's made basket.

Gena Johnson, who finished with a team-high 28 points to pace two other teammates in double figures, scored 11 points during that run, including the two free throws that gave the Tigers a 61-60 lead with 4:36 to play.

That's when Richardson took over for Fullerton, scoring the next six straight points and eight overall down the stretch to give the Titans the lead for good. Junior Lauren Chow added four points in that span, including a crucial one-and-one with 39 seconds to play in what was a one-possession game at that point, turning a three-point lead into a 70-65 advantage.

Johnson and Richardson would then trade free throws in the final 30 seconds to cap the scoring.

Richardson finished shooting 10-of-23 from the floor and a perfect 9-for-9 from the line to lead the Titans offense, adding six rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes. Chow was the only other Fullerton player in double figures, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, four rebounds, and five assists.

Johnson, who hit 8-of-14 from the floor and 11-of-11 from the line, was joined in double figures by Tigers' teammates Kendall Rodriguez (12 points) and Christina Thompson (10 points).

A tight first half saw five lead changes and five ties in the first 20 minutes as neither team led by more than four points for the first 10 minutes of the contest. Pacific eventually built a six-point, 31-25, advantage with 4:34 to play, bit the Titans responded with another big run to regain the lead.

Senior Ashley Richie hit a jumper to start the run and was followed by back-to-back three's from Lyndsey Grove and Neal, giving Fullerton a 33-31 lead. Richardson the hit a pair of free throws after Pacific's Jordan Rogers was whistled for a technical foul and she followed that up was a basket inside for a 37-31 lead with 2:14 to play.

Lauren Bushong then gave the Titans their largest lead of the game to that point with a basket inside and Grove answered a three-pointer from Rodriguez with one of her own at the end of the half as Fullerton took a 42-34 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Titans shot just under 41 percent for the game from the field, holding the Tigers to just 33 percent shooting - including a 25 percent clip in the second half - for the contest. Pacific narrowly held the advantage on the boards, 42-40, including a 17-12 lead on the offensive end.

With just two games remaining over the next two weeks, Cal State Fullerton hits the road for the final time during the regular season, heading to league-leading Cal Poly on Thursday (Feb. 24) for a key 7 p.m. tip with the Mustangs at Mott Gym.