Titans Rally For Key Road Win at UC Riverside
RIVERSIDE, Calif.—Led by Lauren Bushong's 14 second-half points, Cal State Fullerton rallied from a 12-point second-half deficit to claim its first road win of the season and its fourth win in its last five tries overall, beating UC Riverside, 54-49 Saturday night at SRC Arena.
UC Riverside had the ball, down 50-49 with seven seconds left in the game, when Natasha Hadley was called for an offensive foul, after setting an illegal screen on Fullerton's Chante Miles. Bushong knocked down two free throws and then stole the Highlanders' final inbounds pass resulting in an easy lay-up to ice the game for the Titans.
With the win, the Titans now improve to 6-9 overall on the season, but even more importantly 2-1 in Big West play, as the Highlanders now fall to 7-7 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
Bushong scored all 14 of her points in the second half on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. Alex Thomas joined in as the only other Titan in double-figures, scoring 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the floor, as Kathleen Iwouha recorded her second straight double-digit rebounding game, grabbing 10 boards while putting up three points in the win.
Tre'Shonti Nottingham led UC Riverside, scoring a game-high 16 points, while collecting three steals and three assists. Brittany Crain was the only other Highlander to score in double-figures, pouring in 11 points while grabbing four rebounds.
The game was a frustrating one for each side, as both teams combined to shoot just 2-for-9 from the field through the first four-plus minutes of play, with Fullerton holding a slim 5-3 lead at the 15:56 mark of the first half.
Both sides had trouble establishing any sort of rhythm in the first half, as the two teams combined for 28 first-half fouls, with neither side grabbing a lead larger than eight points.
Despite just shooting 4-of-21 from the field for 19 percent, the Highlanders led the Titans 25-20 at the break, thanks to hitting 16-of-17 first-half free throws.
Fullerton's chances to win the game took a hit early, as Nottingham swished a trey from the left side and Crain knocked down a mid-range jumper to spur a mini 5-0 run out of the gate, giving Riverside a 30-20 lead with just over a minute gone by in the second half.
The Highlanders built the lead to as high as 34-22 with 13:24 left to play in the game, before the Titans went on a furious 23-8 run over the next 9-plus minutes, capped off by a Mya Olivier three-pointer from the right wing to give the Titans a 45-42 lead with 3:53 left in the game.
While it stayed close, the Titans never trailed for the remainder of the contest, hanging on to snap a 14-game road losing streak going back to Jan. 14, 2012 in a 67-58 win over Cal State Bakersfield.
The surging Titans continue Big West play next Thursday when they host UC Irvine at 5:30 p.m. back in Titan Gym.
Game Notes: Tonight's win snapped a seven-game road losing streak to Big West oppenents going back to a 58-50 win at UC Davis on Dec. 31, 2011...the victory also snaps what was a four-game losing streak at Riverside going back to a 62-54 win Jan. 23, 2008...Cal State Fullerton's 2-1 Big West start is the school's best three-game conference start since beginning 3-0 during the 2009-10 season...the the 12-point comeback win is tied for the Titans' largest come-from-behind win of the season (Dec. 22 vs. San Jose State and Nov. 17 vs. San Francisco the Titans also fell behind by 12 points).