Cal State Fullerton’s first trip to the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. women’s basketball tournament ended abruptly Wednesday night.
With leading scorer Gena Miller in foul trouble much of the game, the Titans lost to the University of Montana, 82-67, in a first-round Western Regional game in front of 6,074 at Missoula, Mont.
Montana (27-3), which has 22 consecutive victories, will play the University of Texas in the second round Saturday night at Austin, Tex.
The Grizzlies scored the first six points and never trailed. They were leading, 14-11, with 10 minutes 2 seconds left in the first half when Miller picked up her third foul.
Fullerton was outscored, 24-8, and trailed, 38-19, at halftime.
Miller, who averaged 20 points per game, picked up her fourth foul at the 7:14 mark of the second half and fouled out with 4:37 left. She scored 13 points.
“We weren’t really trying to get her into foul trouble,” Montana Coach Robin Selvig said. “We didn’t want to get out of our game plan. But I’m glad she did get some fouls. It really hurt them when she went out.”
Montana outrebounded Fullerton, 42-37. The Grizzlies also blocked five shots.
With Miller out of the game, the Grizzlies extended their zone to take away the Titans’ outside shooting.
Fullerton (21-9) shot 36% for the game.
Jill Maytuch, one of Fullerton’s best outside shooters, made six of 21 shots.
“We thought we’d shoot better from the outside,” Fullerton Coach Maryalyce Jeremiah said. “I think the thing they realized is that we don’t have much scoring from the point (guard).”
Fullerton did a good job on Lisa McLeod, Montana’s leading scorer. She made five of 12 shots. But McLeod’s teammates picked up the slack.
Jean McNulty made 11 of 17 shots and finished with a game-high 22 points. The Grizzlies also received strong games from Shannon Cate (16 points) and Vicki Austin (14). Montana shot 54%.
“I think their athletic ability is not as good as some of the teams in our conference, but they execute great,” Jeremiah said. “Teams in our conference probably have more quickness and depth. But execution is what makes them good.”
The Titans never got closer than 14 points in the second half. McLeod scored 10 of her 16 points in the second half.
Felicia Benson made seven of 11 shots and scored a season-high 19 points for Fullerton.
“I don’t think we can play much better than that,” Selvig said. “They’re a very good team; Miller is a great player. We can’t play much better defense and we shot great.”