Cal State Fullerton Women’s basketball team took the court for the first time in more than a week following the emotional loss of Monica Quan. It looked as though the Titans were happy to finally get back to playing some basketball.
The Titans came out with a lot of energy in the first half and were strong defensively. Unfortunately, the UC Riverside Highlanders inside presence was too much for the undersized Titans as CSUF let the score get away from them in the second half of a 64-45 loss. The Titans continue their descent in the big west conference rankings by extending their losing streak to six games.
“Today was definitely difficult for all of us,” said team captain Alex Thomas about the loss of Monica Quan. “We try to use it as motivation. It’s hard being out there at practice every day and not seeing her.”
Senior forward/center Lauren Bushong was active on the boards in the beginning of the first half. She had the team’s first four points through five minutes and had the tough job of guarding UCR’s bigs.
UCR took control of the paint early on both ends of the court. Whenever a Titan tried to drive to get an easy bucket, she was met by a tough UCR defender.
Coach Marcia Foster was on her feet constantly calling plays out and making sure her team was set up in their right formations.
CSUF freshman guard Annie Park had the hot hand for Fullerton and a career night. Park, who was averaging 2.7 points per game in her first season as a Titan, scored a team-high 17 points and was 5-of-9 shooting from outside the arc. Park scored back-to-back 3-pointers at the end of the first half, cutting the Highlanders’ lead to six points.
In the second half UCR made sure to defend Park on the outside, making it difficult for her to get open looks. In spite of the tough defense, Park was still able to sink two more three pointers in the second half.
Nothing else seemed to drop for CSUF, who had a poor shooting night. The Titans made only 14 of their 49 shots attempted. Cal State Fullerton’s 28.6 percent shooting performance can be attributed to UCR’s relentlessness on defense. The Highlanders didn’t allow any fast break points or easy layups the entire night.
UCR’s Tre’Shonti Nottingham had four of the team’s 12 steals. Their defensive pressure caused the Titans to turn over the ball 22 times throughout the game. Nottingham wasn’t only dominant on defense, but was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points. She was a sharpshooter from the free throw line as well, converting all 12 of her free throw attempts.
Kathleen Iwuoha, a 5’11’’ sophomore, had a strong second half for the Titans, scoring on three of five shots. With 13:56 remaining in the second half, Iwuoha scored on a bucket where she put up a right handed layup and got hacked by UCR’s Jamila Williams. Iwuoha’s shot helped to cut UCR’s lead to nine after the Highlanders had gained some momentum against the Titans.
Titan forward Mya Olivier scored on a left-handed hook shot where she got fouled on the play with five minutes left to play in the first half. She went to the free throw line and converted the three point play that got fans cheering. Olivier scored eight points and had three steals in 28 minutes of play. Olivier and Park were doing their best to provide some offensive production for their team who couldn’t seem to get any consistency going.
Despite the loss, it was an inspiring effort by the Titans given the circumstances of the past week.
“We heal a day at a time, sometimes a moment at a time. I don’t think anybody feels like they’re healing right now. We feel like we’re just getting through each day,” Coach Foster said.