SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Fullerton outplayed San Diego State most of the game, but an SDSU layup with five seconds remaining was the difference maker in Saturday's 59-58 loss against the Aztecs. The loss makes the team 1-2 to open up the season.
"Really, really proud of our effort, but this one stings," said head coach Jeff Harada. "We definitely put ourselves in a position to win the game, but we made some critical mistakes in the last couple of minutes and SDSU was able to capitalize on them. My hope is that this hurts us enough that we bounce back with the urgency necessary to learn from those mistakes and continue growing as a team."
Freshman Xinavane Foreman led the way for the Titans and tied for the game-high with 17 points. She also grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists. Junior Jade Vega had 16 points of her own, good for second on the team to go along with three assists. Freshman Triann Thompson was the only other Titan in double-figures as she put up 10 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists.
San Diego State was led by senior McKynzie Fort's 17 points. Fort also had six rebounds and four assists. The only other double-figure scorer for the Aztecs was Naje Murray who had 11. Khalia Lark pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, four of which were offensive.
The Titans spread out their scoring in the first quarter as five different players made a field goal. But a few turnovers led to some easy scores for San Diego State. Defensively, Fullerton struggled to stop SDSU's star player, McKynzie Fort as she scored 11 of the Aztecs' 19 first quarter points.
Fullerton improved defensively in the second period as they held SDSU to just 4-15 (26.7%) from the field. Unfortunately they also struggled offensively, shooting 4-14 (28.6%) from the field and 2-7 (28.6%) from beyond the arc. But back-to-back unanswered three's from Vega and T. Thompson let the Titans end the half on a 6-0 scoring run and trailed by just four going into the half.
The third quarter was when the Titans really turned it up. Holding the Aztec offense to just 4-15 from the field for the second straight quarter, Fullerton went on to take the lead. Led by Foreman's eight points and Vega's six, the Titans outscored the Aztecs 18-12 for the quarter and came out ahead by two going into the final period.
Both teams played their best offensive basketball in the final period. The Titans opened up the quarter with a three-pointer from Vega and a layup from junior Daeja Smith to give them their largest lead of the game at seven. An Aztec 6-0 run brought the game within one, but Fullerton responded with a 5-0 run of their own to open it back up. But in the final 30 seconds of play and holding on to just a one-point lead, a costly turnover by the Titans gave SDSU a chance to take control. After a missed jumper, the Aztecs' Gomez picked up the loose ball and scored what would be the winning layup with just five seconds on the clock. The Titans had one final chance, but Smith's shot was no good and San Diego State escaped with the win.
The Titans are back in action on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at Cal State Bakersfield. It will be their fourth and final game on the road to open up the season.
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