IRVINE, Calif.—Cal State Fullerton outscored Long Beach State 27-13 over the final 10:46 to rally from an eight-point deficit and stun the fifth-seeded 49ers, 54-48, in the opening round of the Big West Tournament Tuesday night at the Bren Events Center.
With the win, the Titans (10-21) snapped what was a three-game conference tournament losing streak dating back to March 10, 2010, where Fullerton defeated UC Irvine 89-76 in the first round of the tournament. The win also gives the Titans their seventh double-digit win season in the last eight years, but most importantly keeps their 2013 campaign alive, as they'll take on three-seeded Hawai'i tomorrow at 6 p.m. back at the Bren Events Center.
Mya Olivier led Fullerton with a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds in the win, while Alex Thomas scored all of her 11 points in the second half on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. Lauren Bushong provided a huge lift off the bench, and nearly collected a double-double, as she poured in 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Titans.
Long Beach State's (16-15) Devin Hudson put on a show herself, as she collected a game-high 17 points and 24 rebounds in the loss. Lauren Spargo when 2-of-6 from three-point land and scored 11 points to round out the double-digit scorers for the 49ers.
The Titans scored 41 points on 15-of-29 shooting in the second half, marking the most amount of points Fullerton had scored in any half since the team scored 42 points in the second half on Feb. 23 in a 60-42 win over UC Davis.
But as impressive as the second half performance was, the first half was equally as bad, as the Titans mustered up just 13 points on 5-of-32 shooting (15.6 percent) for the half. The 13 points scored was the least amount of points Fullerton had scored in any half this season and the fewest in the school's 23-year Big West Tournament history.
However, despite the poor offensive showing, Fullerton was only down 16-13 at the break, as the Titans' stingy defense held Long Beach State to just 26.9 percent from the floor on 7-of-26 shooting from the field. The 16 points allowed is the tied for the lowest the Titans had surrendered in any half this season.
After converting just five field goal attempts in the first half, the Titans immediately came out of the halftime break ready to play, as they made four of their first seven shot attempts to eventually tie the game at 26-26 with 13:39 left to play in the game after Brianna Barfield connected on a mid-range jumper.
The game featured nine lead changes and six ties before Chante Miles hit a floater to put the Titans up 37-35 with 5:06 left to play in the contest.
Fullerton would never look back from there, as it was able to extend the lead and close out the game converting on its final six free throw attempts of the ball game, while shooting 80 percent (12-of-15) from the line for the contest.
Game Notes: The win snaps a seven-game neutral court losing skid for the Titans…Fullerton now as won two consecutive Big West Tournament games vs. Long Beach State dating back to a 69-51 win on March 12, 2008 (Five years ago to the day)…Fullerton improves to 4-0 this season when shooting 80-plus percent from the free throw line.