Butler’s Career Night Leads Titans to Victory in Big West Opener
FULLERTON, Calif—Titan fans saw one for the ages Thursday night at Titan Gym, as Tailer Butler poured in a career-high 27 points off the bench, going 7-for-10 from three-point land, as the Titans captured their third straight win and stunned Hawai'i, 83-74, in the conference opener for both teams.
Butler's seven threes made was just one shy of the all-time school record set by Autumn Hollyfield on Nov. 26, 1993, as she hit eight treys vs. Arizona. She went on to tie that mark twice more in her career.
Chante Miles also set a career-high in points scored and steals, as she poured in 20 on 5-of-12 shooting from the floor and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe, while collecting seven steals and seven assists. Alex Thomas scored in double-figures for the third time this season, knocking down 6-of-10 field goals for 15 points. Mya Olivier scored nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, while earning a career-high six steals as well.
Reigning Big West Player of the Week Kamilah Martin nearly captured a double-double, as she scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the losing effort for Hawai'i. Shawna-Lei Kuehu and Ashleigh Karaitiana also chipped in, as the two combined for 21 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.
Hawai'i s went an unthinkable 14-of-17 from the field in the second half, but the Titans forced a season-high 18 turnovers to negate the sharp shooting.
What turned out to be a special night for Cal State Fullerton (5-8, 1-0 Big West) started out as anything but, as Hawai'i (4-8, 0-1 Big West) connected on five of their first 10 field goals to take a 12-4 advantage with 15:09 to play in the first half.
The Rainbow Wahine stretched their lead to as high as 16-7 with 11:09 left to play in the first half after a Kuehu layup.
However, that's as good as it would get for Hawai'i, as the Titans immediately responded with Butler and Thomas knocking down treys in back-to-back possessions to bring the Titans within 16-13 with 10:19 remaining in the opening half.
The Rainbow Wahine ballooned their lead back to 21-13 with 7:38 left in the half, but once again the Titans fought back. This time it was all Butler, as she scored 10 of Fullerton's next 14 points, including a left-corner trey to tie things at 25-25 and then two free throws to make it a 27-25 Fullerton advantage with 3:34 left in the half.
Despite shooting a season-high 45.8 percent (11-24) for the half and 60 percent (6-10) from long-range, the Titans still trailed 35-33 at the break.
But, Butler's fantastic shooting performance was just getting started, as she nailed 4-of-5 second half three-point attempts, including one from the left-wing with 16:25 left to propel the Titans back in front at 42-41. It was just one of seven second half lead changes.
Cal State Fullerton trailed 64-61 with 5:58 left to play in the game, but Butler came through one more time, knocking down treys in back-to-back possessions to flip the score and put the Titans up 67-64 with 5:11 left to play.
From then on Fullerton wouldn't trail again, as it battled its way to its sixth conference-opening win in the last seven seasons.
The streaking Titans look to keep their win streak alive, as they close out their four-game homestand with Cal State Northridge Saturday at 3 p.m. in Titan Gym.