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    Cal State Fullerton women fall to UC Davis in Big West tourney opener
    • March 13, 2024

    The Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team was hoping to close the gap even further against UC Davis in the opening round of the Big West Tournament on Wednesday afternoon.

    The fifth-seeded Aggies had other plans and rolled to an 81-57 victory against eighth-seeded Fullerton in Henderson, Nevada.

    UC Davis will meet fourth-seeded Cal Poly (SLO) in a quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon.

    Evanne Turner, a senior guard who was the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Player of the Year at Etiwanda High in Rancho Cucamonga in the 2018-19 season, scored a career-high 29 points for the Aggies (18-13).

    She made her first seven 3-point attempts before finishing 7 for 10 from behind the arc.

    Her accuracy helped UC Davis shoot 17 for 32 from deep as a team.

    “They played a really good game, made a ton of shots today and made it tough for us to guard them, so they were definitely the better team today,” Fullerton coach Jeff Harada said. “Proud of our team, proud of our effort.”

    Fujika Nimmo scored a season-high 22 points off the bench for the Titans (10-21), who returned seven of their top eight scorers from last season and were picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll.

    Gabi Vidmar contributed 12 points and Ashlee Lewis finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for Fullerton, which played UC Davis much closer in their two regular-season meetings.

    The Titans had a three-point lead with 6½ minutes left in the fourth quarter in their first matchup on Jan. 18, but ultimately lost, 60-55.

    Fullerton was within three points with 3½ minutes remaining in the second meeting on Feb. 8, but the Aggies outscored the Titans 15-5 the rest of the way to win by double digits.

    That wasn’t the case in their third meeting, as UC Davis shot 10 for 16 from 3-point range in the first half to build a 46-26 lead.

    The Titans made the first basket of the second half to pull within 18, but they never got any closer.

    “We couldn’t make enough shots to keep up, couldn’t get enough stops, but we played hard until the end,” Harada said.

    The Aggies took four 3-point shots to start the game and made three to take an early 9-2 lead

    Vidmar produced a three-point play and sank a 3-pointer on the next possession to cut it to 9-8. The Titans then took their only lead of the game at 10-9 on a layup by Nimmo with 2:13 left in the opening quarter, but UC Davis responded with an 8-0 run.

    The Aggies took a 17-12 lead into the second quarter and then seized control by scoring the next 15 points to stretch the lead to 32-12.

    The Titans missed their first eight field-goal attempts of the second quarter before Nimmo sank a jumper with 4:22 left in the half.

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    Fullerton found its range shortly after and made three straight 3-point shots, but the Aggies made two 3s in between to keep the lead at 15 points.

    The Titans shot 31.3% from the floor in the opening half, including 5 for 12 from 3-point range.

    Turner, meanwhile, made all five of her 3-point tries in the first half and scored 17 points.

    Harada said it was an up-and-down season that got off to a slow start because of injuries to key players and the Titans never gained traction.

    “We took our lumps in the nonconference season and started out conference with a win, which was great, and then we were kind of inconsistent throughout the year,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that we weren’t a competitive team. I think we competed all year long, and I think our seniors really set the tone.”

    ​ Orange County Register