FULLERTON, CA - Kathleen Barry's basket inside with two seconds remaining broke at 63-63 tie and lifted visiting Columbia to a two-point, 65-63, victory over Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday night at Titan Gym.
The loss is the third straight for the Titans, who fell to 3-7 overall, while the Lions snapped a two-game skid in improving to 5-6 overall on the year.
Fullerton had its own chance to break the tie, but Toni Thomas' running lay-up inside from four feet with 14 seconds to go would not fall as the Lions executed in transition, working the ball to a wide-open Barry on the left baseline, who converted to give Columbia the lead.
Ashley Richie's last-ditch half-court attempt then sailed wide left as time expired to end the game.
Sophomore Lyndsey Grove finished with a career-high 18 points off the bench to pace the Titans and was joined in double figures by Thomas, who added 16 points in just 12 minutes off the bench in her first game back from injury.
Cal State Fullerton led by as many as nine points in the second half after taking an eight-point, 39-31, advantage into the locker room at halftime. Columbia, which shot 50 percent from the field for the game - including a 43 percent clip in its second-half rally, battled back, using an 11-2 run to tie the game at 51 apiece with just over nine minutes left.
The Titans rebuilt their lead back to five points on baskets by Grove and Thomas along with a pair of free throws from Megan Richardson, but the Lions roared back once again. Columbia used another lengthy 11-4 run over a six-minute span that was capped by a lay-up from Lauren Dwyer to take their first lead since the nine-minute mark of the first half at 63-61 with 1:39 remaining.
Senior Daviyonne Weathersby responded by hitting a short jumper from eight-feet out seconds later to re-tie the game and set up the Lions' last-second heroics.
Fullerton got out of the gates slowly to start the contest, missing its first seven shots to start the game as Columbia opened on a 13-3 run to take the early lead. The Titans were held scoreless for almost the first four minutes of the contest before a Jasmine Scott three-pointer with 16:02 remaining snapped the skid.
Cal State Fullerton trailed by as many as 10 points in the opening period, but found its stroke quickly, whittling the deficit down to just two points thanks to a 7-1 run over a two-minute span to make it 16-14 with 10:45 remaining. After a three-pointer by Katrina Cragg, another seven-point run by the Titans - this one capped by a three-pointer by Lauren Chow - gave them their first lead of the game at 21-19 with just over eight minutes to go.
Fullerton then led the rest of the half, weathering a 59 percent shooting performance from the Lions, to lead 39-31 at the break. Thomas scored six points in a two-minute span as part of a 12-0 run by the Titans that gave them their biggest lead at 37-25 with 3:16 to go en route to the halftime advantage.
Judie Lomax notched her third consecutive double-double for the Lions, leading the way with 17 points and 12 rebounds to lead two teammates in double figures. Dwyer also added 17 points to go with 10 rebounds while Danielle Browne chipped in 10 points and five assists.
The Lions outrebounded the Titans, 37-27, and survived committing 25 turnovers on the night that led to 29 points for Fullerton.
Cal State Fullerton returns to the court on Saturday (Jan. 3) at 5 p.m. as the Titans ring in the New Year with their Big West Conference opener against UC Irvine at Titan Gym.