FULLERTON, Calif. – Fullerton dominated in the fourth quarter to take home a W in their conference opener against Hawai'i. The victory was the Titans' first conference opening win since the 2014-15 season and it snapped a seven-game losing skid against the Rainbow Wahine.
"What a big win for our team and program tonight," said head coach Jeff Harada. "Hawaii is a very physical and well-coached team and I was really happy with our toughness to hold the lead and close the game out. Our kids deserve a lot of credit and I'm really happy for them."
Harada continued, "We executed pretty well offensively at times and made some timely baskets, but I was really happy with our defense and our rebounding. We talked about doing the little things better tonight so defense, rebounding, and free throws were a big priority for us."
The Titans saw four players reach double-figures led by junior Jade Vega's 19-point effort to go along with a team-high four assists. Junior Daeja Smith recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Triann Thompson was hot from the field finishing with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, while junior Hannah Thompson put up 11 points off the bench.
Hawai'i only had three main scorers for the game led by Sarah Toeaina's game-high 23 points. Tia Kanoa and Julissa Tago both put up 11 points. Tago also dished out a game-high eight assists and matched the team-high with six rebounds.
The first quarter was all Titans as they jumped out to an early 7-0 lead hitting their first three shots of the game. Vega led the way from the beginning as she put up nine first quarter points. Just past the halfway point, Fullerton saw their first double-digit lead as they went up by 10 with 4:29 left in the quarter.
Hawai'i started to battle back as they cut the lead down to just two points just over the halfway mark for the quarter, but Fullerton kicked into another gear going on a 10-0 run to get their largest lead of the half at 12 points. The Titans went into the break leading it 35-29.
The Rainbow Wahine came out of halftime fighting as Fullerton saw its lead cut down to two points yet again. However, the Titans never relinquished their lead as they battled back-and-forth with Hawai'i through the final five minutes of play in the third quarter.
Fullerton pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to some great shooting from the charity stripe. Going 11-12 from the line, including 10-10 in the final two minutes of play. For the game, CSF shot a remarkable 24-28 (85.7%) from the strike which marks the highest percentage they've had all year.
The Titans will play conference game number two as the Matadors of CSUN come to Titan Gym for a game on Saturday. Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m.
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