By Jarrod Castillo, Contributor
With less than 10 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 47, freshman Justina King inbounded the ball and sprinted to the left corner, waiting to shoot the potential game-winning shot.
That shot never came, however, as with three seconds left, sophomore Shanaijah Davison mishandled the pass and threw the ball behind King and out of her reach.
After a timeout, the Titans inbounded the ball to Raina Perez, and with less than three seconds left on the clock, she shot a 3-pointer two feet behind the line while defenders surrounded her. Just as the buzzer sounded, the ball swished through the net as she was swarmed by her incredulous teammates.
That capped an 18-4 fourth quarter Cal State Fullerton (6-9 Big West, 14-14 overall) run to down Long Beach State (5-10 Big West, 8-20 overall), 50-47.
“It’s just another tough loss,” Long Beach State head coach Jeff Cammon said. “It’s hard to take that one, especially after the first half we had. We just didn’t come out in the second half … and defensively, we just had too many breakdowns. It’s part of the game.”
In the first quarter, Long Beach State came out energized on both ends of the floor as they held the Titans to four points on 2-of-11 shooting. Additionally, the Beach forced eight turnovers and scored seven points off of them, helping Long Beach State build a 20-4 lead.
Though both sides played horrifically in the third quarter, Fullerton was able to use the momentum that had been building throughout the game and turned what appeared to be a blowout into a very close game.
After a poor showing, the Titans began showing signs of life as four different players scored in the second quarter. That burst helped cut the deficit to 12 to close out a dispirited half for Fullerton, 34-22.
Daeja Smith had six points and six rebounds for the Titans, while junior Sydney Bordonaro had eight points with two 3-pointers to lead the Beach at the half.
Both teams played sluggishly in the third quarter as Long Beach State and Fullerton scored 10 and nine points, respectively, on poor percentages. Of note, Davison, the Beach’s leading scorer, saw her first action of the game in the third quarter as she checked in with 9:09 left in the quarter.
Though both sides played horrifically in the third quarter, Fullerton was able to use the momentum that had been building throughout the game and turned what appeared to be a blowout into a very close game. Fullerton even took the lead, 45-44, with 3:20 left in the game thanks to a 3-pointer by Jade Vega.
Davison would answer back with a three of her own to give the Beach a 47-45 lead with just under three minutes left. However, that would be all Long Beach State could muster as Perez decided to takeover the game.
“The score was balanced but we didn’t score enough.”
After being held to seven points in the first three quarters, Perez scored eight of her game-leading 15 points in the fourth, none bigger than the buzzer-beating three she hit as time expired to cap off an 18-4 fourth quarter run by the Titans to steal the game, 50-47.
Although the team had a balanced effort on the offensive end with King leading the way with nine points and three assists, Cammon says that the team needed to defend better and that the momentum carried Fullerton to the win.
“The score was balanced but we didn’t score enough,” he said. “I just felt like they had the momentum, probably the last eight minutes of the game.”
The Beach are tied for seventh place with UC Santa Barbara, a team they beat about three weeks ago. Even with the tough loss, Cammon says that there will be no change in how the team approaches the final game of the season.
“Just polishing things at this point and making the sure our kids are prepared,” he concluded.
Long Beach State’s last game before the Big West Tournament is against UC Irvine on Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m., in Irvine.