FULLERTON, Calif. – Led by freshman Ashlee Ane's 19-point performance, Fullerton defeated Portland 66-61 in their home opener Saturday afternoon.
"Great team win today against a tough and physical Portland team," said head coach Jeff Harada. "They were really hot from the field to start the game, but I was happy how we responded to finish the half only down by five points. We did a better job contesting their shots in the second half and I was really proud of our composure down the stretch to finish the game by getting big stops and making free throws."
Ane's career-high 19 points on 6-11 (54.5%) shooting and 5-7 (71.4%) from beyond the arc led Fullerton. Junior Daeja Smith recorded her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Jade Vega was the third and final Titan in double-figures as she put up 12 points to go along with a game-high six assists.
"Carolyn gave us some big minutes defensively, Daeja had her best game of the season and it was nice to see Ashlee shoot the ball the way she did. Different players stepped up at different moments and it was fun to watch."
Portland only saw one player reach double-figures and that was junior Julie Spencer who had a game-high 24 points. Spencer also led the Pilots with seven rebounds. Portland had three players with eight points, but nobody else higher than that.
The Titans were off to a quick start as redshirt senior China Henderson picked up the ball off the tip-off and went straight to the rim for a layup in the first five seconds of the game which started an early 6-0 run. Fullerton had an 8-7 lead with five minutes gone in the first, but Portland came out of the media timeout on fire. The Pilots went a 13-3 run to close out the first period up 20-13.
Fullerton picked it up offensively as they outscored Portland in the second half, but defensively they could not get stops when they needed them. The Pilots led the entire second quarter matching shot after shot with the Titans and had their largest lead of 11 with six minutes left to play. But CSF ended the half with back-to-back threes from junior Hannah Thompson and Ane so they went into the break only down by five.
Both teams shot over 50% from the field in the third quarter, but the difference was free throws. The Titans drew six fouls in the quarter and shot 7-8 (87.5%) from the strike which proved to be the difference. Vega's jumper from the elbow tied the game at 51 and freshman Triann Thompson gave Fullerton the lead back with 30 seconds left with her corner-jumper just inside the arc.
Taking a two-point lead into the final period, the Titans did not look back. Defensively, the held Portland to just 5-20 (25%) from the field and 0-4 from beyond the arc. Led by Ane's six fourth quarter points, Fullerton held onto their lead for the entire quarter. Up three points with five seconds left, Vega drew a foul that sent her to the line where she sank both free throws and put the game out of reach for Portland.
The Titans will play again at Titan Gym on Monday, Nov. 27 as the Pioneers of Denver come to town. Tip-off is at 7:00pm PT
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