Late Rally Not Enough, as Gauchos Hold Off Titans
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Cal State Fullerton rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to eventually tie the game at 44-44 with 7:07 left to play in the ball game, but UC Santa Barbara ended up having just enough in the tank down the stretch, as the Gauchos held on to defeat the Titans 60-50 at the Thunderdome in Santa Barbara Saturday afternoon.
The Titans have now failed to beat UC Santa Barbara in 40 consecutive contests going back to 1995 and have dropped 22 straight games in Santa Barbara dating back to 1991.
For Fullerton (7-14, 3-6 Big West), it's the fifth straight defeat after winning five of the previous six contests. UC Santa Barbara (9-12, 5-4 Big West) has picked up wins in three of its last four affairs to put the Gauchos back in the mix for the Big West crown.
Lauren Bushong scored nine of her team-high 11 points in the second half, while also grabbing five rebounds for the Titans. Kathleen Iwuoha nearly had herself a double-double, scoring 10 points and recording eight rebounds in the loss.
UCSB's Kirsten Tilleman led all scorers with 16 points, as she went 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Sweets Underwood was the only other Gaucho to score in double-figures, as she poured in 10 points and recorded a game-high four steals in the win.
In a battle of two of the lowest scoring offenses in the conference, the Titans and Gauchos combined to connect on just two of their first nine shot attempts, and the score was just 3-3 with almost five minutes gone by in the game.
UC Santa Barbara eventually got its offense going, shooting 10-of-24 for 41.7 percent for the first half. However, for the Titans, the cold shooting continued, as Fullerton ended up just shooting 7-of-26 for the first half for 26.9 percent.
The Titans scored just six points in the final 7:32 of the first half and went into halftime down 28-18.
Despite the deficit, Fullerton refused to go down easy, as Bushong scored the Titans' first three field goals of the second half to help spark an 18-10 run to bring Fullerton within 38-36 with 11:24 left to play after Iwuoha scored a lay-up, thanks to an athletic assist by Chante Miles.
The Titans would go on to tie the game three times within the next four minutes, but could never pull ahead. The offense sputtered down the stretch, as it finished just 16-for-58 for 27.6 percent for the game.
UCSB conversely shot 20-for-38 for 52.6 percent, while committing just 12 steals and blocking six shots.
Fullerton now returns home to Titan Gym to take on UC Riverside next Saturday at 3 p.m.