Titans Squeak by Spartans in Dramatic Fashion
FULLERTON, Calif.—San Jose State received the ball down by just a point with seven seconds left, but failed to get a shot off as Cal State Fullerton hung on to defeat the Spartans 60-59 Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym, snapping a seven-game losing streak.
Sophomore guard Ta'Rea Cunnigan led all scorers with 18 points and went 9-of-11 from the free throw line to pace the Spartans, while freshman forward Riana Byrd earned her third career double-double, as she recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds.
It didn't look promising early for Fullerton, (3-8) as it came out of the gate sluggish, connecting on just two of its first nine shot attempts and trailed San Jose State (3-8) 10-4 with 15:33 left to play in the first half, as the Spartans conversely went 5-for-9 to start the game.
The struggles continued for the Titans, as a Riana Byrd trey gave the Spartans their biggest lead of the game at 22-10 with 7:53 left to play in the first half.
However, the always stingy Fullerton defense kept the Titans in the game, as it forced 12 first-half turnovers and held the Spartans to just one field goal over the final seven-plus minutes of the opening half. So despite shooting just 24 percent for the half, the Titans led 27-24 at the break after scoring five unanswered points in the final 2:36 to close out the period.
The Titans kept the momentum rolling, as Miles started to find her stroke from downtown; nailing consecutive treys to open up the second half, giving Fullerton it's biggest lead of the day at 33-26 with 18:43 left to play.
However, San Jose State refused to surrender complete control, as it kept things close throughout. Fullerton's lead never got higher than six points the rest of the way.
Things started to get a little bit dicey for the Titans inside of the final six minutes, as the Spartans regained the lead three separate times, mostly on free throws. San Jose State connected on 12-of-14 second half free throw attempts.
But, Lauren Bushong came up big when it counted most, providing the play that would ultimately seal Fullerton's fate, as she converted on an and-one opportunity with 3:56 left to play to put the Titans up 58-54.
San Jose State was able to get the deficit back down to one after Thomas Chereese swished a wide-open corner trey, but in the end Fullerton's defense was able to come up with just enough stops to escape with the win.
Cal State Fullerton now looks to wrap up non-conference play on a win streak, as the Titans will host Columbia on Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. in Titan Gym.
Game Notes: Win snaps seven-game losing streak. It was the longest skid since the 2008-09 season (also lost seven straight)…Alex Thomas collected a season-high eight rebounds…Mya Olivier recorded season highs in both points (13) and rebounds (8)…Titans scored 60+ points for the first time since Nov. 11 at Loyola Marymount.