March 1, 2012
LONG BEACH, CA - Long Beach State's Alex Sanchez hit a jumper in the paint to tie the game with 1:33 remaining and her 1-for-2 from the line with 40 seconds to go provided the winning margin as the host 49ers escaped with a 62-61 win over Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid.
The Titans fell to 11-17 overall and 4-11 in Big West Conference play with the loss, but still wrapped up the No. 8 seed for next week's conference tournament after UC Riverside's overtime loss to UC Irvine later in the evening. It will be Fullerton's 11th consecutive appearance in the Big West Tournament with its opening round opponent still to be determined with one game remaining in the regular season.
Long Beach State improved to 12-17 overall, and 7-9 in league play with the win, snapping a six-game losing streak to its long-time rivals in the process.
The Titans had two attempts for the go-ahead basket with less than 12 seconds to play as Mya Olivier's jumper was short, but the rebound was tied up with the arrow favoring Fullerton with 9.1 seconds left.
Senior Megan Richardson, who scored 12 of her team-high 18 points in the second half, then had another chance, but her go-ahead attempt was stripped away in the paint by the 49ers' defense with four seconds remaining. The ball was then tied up with the possession arrow favoring the home team with 1.6 seconds left, but the Titans could not get another jump-ball whistle off the inbounds pass when two Titans smothered a 49ers player near the baseline as time expired.
Lauren Chow finished with 15 points and a career-high nine assists for the Titans, who also had Olivier in double figures at 14 points to go with six rebounds. Senior Alicya Crisp finished with seven rebounds to lead all players.
Neither team led by more than three points in the early going as the score was tied four times and the lead changed hands five times in the first 13 minutes. However, Long Beach State exploded for an 18-4 run over a six-minute span that gave the 49ers their largest lead at 33-21 with 2:02 to play. Back-to-back baskets by Richardson brought the Titans back to within single digits at the break, trailing 33-25 at halftime.
That run continued into the second half for Fullerton, growing to a 16-3 burst three minutes into the second half to regain the lead for the Titans, 37-36, with 16:42 to play. After a free throw, a three-pointer by Chow extended Fullerton's advantage to three points -- matching its largest lead of the game to that point -- before Long Beach regained control with a 9-0 run of its own to go up, 46-40, just four minutes later.
The two teams traded baskets before 10 straight points -- five of those from the free throw line -- capped by a three-pointer from Richardson gave the Titans their largest lead of the game at 55-51 with 6:23 to play.
Fullerton, however, could not pull away, as the two teams traded points before the 49ers rallied from the free throw line, where they shot just 57 percent for the night. Sanchez hit a pair to make it a two-point game and, after two from the stripe from Olivier, Chantel Dooley hit a pair to set-up Sanchez's late-game heroics.
Sanchez finished with 14 points, but the night belonged to senior Tipesa Moorer, who finished with a game-high 20 points to pace Long Beach State. Hallie Meneses added 11 points in the win for the 49ers, who overcame 22 turnovers, but shot just under 58 percent from the field for the night to Fullerton's 35 percent and outrebounded the Titans, 35-33.
Cal State Fullerton closes out the regular season on Saturday (March 3) at 4 p.m. as the Titans take on second-place Cal State Northridge at The Matadome. The Matadors enter Saturday's finale just a game back of Cal Poly for the top spot as the Mustangs face Pacific on Saturday at 4 p.m.