March 12, 2009
Anaheim, Calif. - Jenna Breite hit two free throws with 5.6 seconds to play to give Cal State Fullerton a 64-62 victory over Pacific in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Anaheim Convention Center.
The No. 6-seeded Titans improved to 10-19 and advanced to the semifinals to play No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara at noon on Friday. Fullerton lost to the Gauchos in the semis in 2006 and lost both meetings this season, by 6 and by 11 points.
Lauren Chow had 17 points and Megan Richardson added 14 for the Titans, who trailed in only the first minute of the game. Fullerton made 20 of 27 free throws including a 4-for-4 effort by Breite, who was 3-for-4 for the SEASON entering the contest. Janae Young, Amber Simmons and Amy VanHollebeke each had 10 points for the No. 4-seeded Tigers, who finish 14-16.
Pacific erased a 5-point deficit in the final minute to set the stage for Breite. After Lyndsey Grove's layup gave Fullerton a 60-55 lead with 41 seconds left, the Tigers got a 3-point play from Karen Dawkins at 0:33. Daviyonne Weathersby made two free throws for Fullerton with 28 seconds left but Jennifer Fath drove in for a layup with 19 seconds left. The Tigers then stole the ball from Chow under the basket and Whitney Price tied the game at 62 with a layup with about 12 seconds to play.
Chow pushed the ball up the floor and found Breite down low. Her layup attempt rolled off the rim but she was fouled by Young. Van Hollebeke missed a hurried jumper for the Tigers at the buzzer.
"I was a little nervous, but I've been working on my free throws a lot and I knew I would be able to knock them down," said Breite, who averaged only 1.2 points on the season.
"Jenna did a great job for us," said CSF Head Coach Maryalyce Jeremiah. "She just goes in and rebounds and plays defense and doesn't care if she doesn't get a shot. I don't think she's taken a shot yet in this tournament.
Leading scorer Toni Thomas is coming back from injuries and fouled out with 31 seconds to play, allowing Breite more playing time. Thomas scored only 6 points but led all rebounders with 9.
"I live to coach another game," said Dr. Jeremiah, who is coaching her final season. "I haven't thought about tomorrow yet."
VanHollebeke hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the game but Fullerton scored the next 10 points and never trailed again. The early lead was 15-5 and the biggest margin was 13 points at 25-12. The Tigers scored the final 7 points of the half and closed within 6 points at 33-27.
Fullerton struggled offensively in the second half and made only 7 field goals. Twice it opened up 8-point leads but Pacific got even at 49-49 on a 3-pointer by Jennifer Fath with 7:12 to play. Fullerton responded with 7 unanswered points for a 56-49 lead and it was 58-51 after a Chow jumper with 2:44 remaining.
Pacific got offensive rebounds on three consecutive possessions to get back within striking range. The Tigers lost leading scorer Simmons to her fifth foul with 4:36 to play.