FULLERTON, Calif. - Behind 44 combined points from senior Alex Thomas and junior Chante Miles, Cal State Fullertons' stifling Titan defense downed Hawai'i , 61-42, on senior night at Titan Gym Saturday.
With the win, Fullerton (12-17, 8-8 Big West) finishes tied for sixth with Long Beach State. The Titans begin their postseason journey Tuesday at the Pyramid in Long Beach, where it will take on rival Long Beach State at 8:30 p.m.
For Hawai'i (16-12, 10-6 Big West), the loss moves them to the number three seed in the Big West tournament, but still gives them a first round bye. Their first game will be on Wednesday at 6 p.m. against the second-lowest seed to advance, meaning the two teams could possibly meet once again Wednesday night.
Miles poured in 24 points off 8-of-15 shooting, while recording five steals in a winning effort. In her final game at Titan Gym, Thomas chipped in 20 points, including a three-pointer at the 17:07 mark of the first half, which lifted her over 1,000 total career points.
Senior Sydney Haydel led the Rainbow Wahine with 10 points, while sophomore guard Destiny King contributed nine points and seven rebounds in the loss.
The Titans got off on the right foot as five of the first seven points came from Thomas, including her three-pointer which gave her 1,000 career points. Over the next 12 minutes, the two teams battled back and forth, but Miles took control of the game and led the Titans on a 13-2 run to give the Titans a 27-15 advantage with 2:53 left in the half.
Fullerton then took a 31-15 lead into the half behind 14 points from Miles on 4-of-7 shooting. The Titans also held Hawai'i to a season-low 25 percent shooting in the opening stanza, while the Titans shot 45 percent from the field.
The Titans picked it up where they left off in the second half as they extended their lead to 17, holding a lead of 38-21 with 14:46 remaining. The Rainbow Wahine tried to creep back into the ballgame and cut the Titan lead down to 12 at one point, but the home team's defense was just too much for Hawai'i.
As Fullerton sustained its lead in the final minutes of the game, Brianna Barfield and Thomas received standing ovations in their final exit. The Titans were able to hold UH to 29.1 (16-for-55) percent shooting on the night and force 17 turnovers.
The Titans now look forward to next week's Big West tournament first round matchup on Tuesday night versus Long Beach State at the Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.
Notes: Seniors Brianna Barfield, Mya Olivier, and Alex Thomas were honored during the pregame ceremony as they play their last home game at Titan Gym…Alex Thomas recorded her 1,000 total career point with a three-pointer at the 17:07 mark in the first half…Tonight's meeting marked the 29th meeting all-time between the two schools….the Titans move to 15-14 all-time against the Rainbow Wahine and 12-14 in Big West play… With the win, Fullerton picks up its most wins and conference wins in a season since 2009-10.
Head Coach Daron Park
"I was really pleased with our exectution, our effort, and the way we executed our gameplan. I felt like we controlled the game from start to finish and defensively we were really solid and didnt let them get comfortable. Offensively, we did our jobs and we got people opened. I'm really proud of the way that we played for our three seniors and I'm excited to represent Cal State Fullerton in next week's Big West tournament."
Senior Guard Alex Thomas
On Effort Tonight
"We played hard tonight, today was emotional and the way everyone came out tonight was awesome. Everyone gave everything they had and if we wanted to move on in the tournament we have to do that every game."
On reaching 1,000 career points
"I knew I didn't have that many left and I didnt even hear them announce it, its crazy and I cant even wrap my mind around it."