Throw enough mud on the wall, some of it is bound to stick.
Such was the philosophy of visiting Cal State Fullerton, which — while shooting only 31.8 percent from the floor — launched 66 shots and managed a 65-62 Big West Conference win over the UC Davis women’s basketball team at The Pavilion on Thursday.
“I felt like we let ourselves down defensively and on the boards,” coach Jennifer Gross said after her Aggies fell to 5-5 in league and 10-13 overall.
The Titans, who trailed much of the game, used an unusual five-point play to take a 57-52 lead with 6:49 left — only to see UCD come back to lead by as many as three before a hand-wringing final four minutes gave Fullerton (9-13, 5-4) the nod.
Eighteen offensive boards — nine from Titan Kathleen Iwuoha — and drive after drive by Chante Miles and Alex Thomas were the epicenter of the Aggies’ frustration.
“Iwuhoa … we knew she’s a presence in the paint. Rebounding-wise, she’s done a tremendous job in our conference and we just let her get going in the first half,” Gross told The Enterprise.
“We just didn’t battle enough on the boards (Thursday). As a team, we know that. If you don’t defend and you don’t rebound, you don’t win.”
The Titans, which lost a 69-67 overtime thriller to UCD in Fullerton on Jan. 18, were burned early by the long-range games of Sydnee Fipps and Kelsey Harris.
First it was Fipps who hit three treys and a lay-in that looked more like a fullback making a goal-line-plunge in the first six minutes of the game. Fipps’ explosion had the locals up 13-9 and the two-point bucket tied former teammate Kasey Riecks (1,071 points) at 14th on the school’s all-time scoring list.
By the time the evening was over, the junior from Yosemite High had 20 points and was tied with UCD assistant coach Des Abeyta (Class of 2000) for 13th with 1,080.
But as would be the case all night, Fullerton battled back — this time thanks to an 8-0 run highlighted by Samantha Logan’s 3-pointer.
Treys from Fipps and Harris and a 13-footer from Idit Oryon turned the tables. In fact, the Aggies would follow with three more 3-pointers — from Harris, Molly Greubel and Taylor McGuire — to build a 30-22 lead with only 2:02 to go until intermission.
Once again, however, UCD’s defense failed and the Titans closed the gap to 30-27 by halftime.
In the first 20 minutes, Fullerton shot only 24.3 percent while the Aggies connected at a 40 percent clip. Nonetheless, 12 more shots and 12 offensive rebounds kept the guests close.
It looked like UCD wanted to pull away when 3-pointers by Fipps and Heidi Johnson put their team up 39-34.
But on this night, the local defense wasn’t there …
With the game eventually tied at 52-52, Logan’s trey came at the exact moment Greubel was called for a foul on Thomas. The former Mater Dei High guard hit both her charity tosses.
Another 8-0 UCD run provided the hometown fans some hope, but six Fullerton free throws and a Miles steal and lay-in stole the road win.
The Aggies had chances in the final 20 seconds to tie or win, but on both possessions, CSUF defenders thwarted UCD chances.
Thomas led all scorers with 22 points, Logan added 17 and Miles had 15 for the Titans.
The locals committed 16 turnovers to just five for Fullerton — a late, full-court press creating 10 second-half Aggie miscues. In addition to an 18-offensive rebound advantage, the Titans outboarded UCD 40-36 overall.
Harris and Fipps combined to shoot 12-for-19 with Fipps hitting six treys in 11 tries and Harris going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Alyson Doherty — who sat out 14 minutes of the first half in foul trouble — added 10 points and grabbed five boards, while Greubel had eight points and five more assists. The sophomore point guard handed out 14 in Saturday’s overtime loss at UC Irvine.
Celia Marfone had five assists, seven rebounds and two points Thursday.
UCD gets Saturday off, then travels to Long Beach State for a Thursday 7 p.m. game that will be featured on ESPN3. Saturday, Feb. 20, the Aggies return home to meet Hawaii at 2 p.m.
Notes: In other Big West action, Cal State Northridge (12-13, 8-3) crept closer to first-place Cal Poly (14-9, 8-2) by beating the Mustangs, 83-57. UC Santa Barbara (7-15, 2-7) shocked Long Beach State (13-11, 5-5), 80-69. UC Riverside was the late game at Hawaii. UCD is in a sixth-place tie with Long Beach, comfortably ahead of UCSB and UCR. … The all-time series between the Aggies and Titans is tied at 10-10. … UCD guard Brianna Salvatore (knee) was back in uniform Thursday but did not play.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.