Titans soar over Toreros for the sweep

Rebounding from a disappointing non-conference loss to Montana, the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team swept the University of San Diego in a dominant final score of 90-76 Friday Dec. 4.

Senior forward Jer’Vaughn Johnson was up to his old ways after sitting out the first five games due to injuries, and led the night with a career-high of 23 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Johnson paired up with redshirt junior forward Orane Chin, who scored 21 points, six rebounds and had three assists, led the game as leading scorers, allowing CSUF to hold off the San Diego defense.

With the majority of the season played on the road, the Titans said it felt good to be back on their home court.

“It felt good to be home and the win felt even better,” Johnson said.

“It’s nice to be home,” said junior guard Perry Webster, who currently leads the Big West Conference in the assists-to-turnover ratio with 10 assists and no turnovers. “We struggled on the road and need to get better on the road, but it’s nice to be home.”

Titan Head Coach Bob Burton said it felt great to play at home and with a rigorous schedule, he is excited to see how the team continues to perform.

“We’ve only had three games at home,” Burton said. “We play really well at home but had a hard schedule to start out with.”

In the first half, USD had a four-point lead over the Titans in the first 16 minutes. The Titans were able to capitalize off missed shots and outrebounded the Toreros 27-24.

When Johnson went converted at the free-throw line and a Titan three-pointer immediately after, the Titans took the lead 22-19.

“I didn’t play the first game (against USD) and that gave (me) the (initiative) to play harder,” Johnson said.

“First off, it has been a big thing to have JV back,” Webster said. “He had a good game… We played together more offensively and scored 90 points. Our defense was not good enough tonight.”

The Toreros trailed into the half 41-39.

Johnson made the first shot of the half followed by a bucket from senior guard Devon Peltier, who dropped 19 points and three assists. The Titans increased the deficit as the game continued, fighting through San Diego to pull ahead 65-59.

“JV is what made the difference,” Burton said. “That’s why our team struggled.”

Burton recognized Johnson, Chin, Peltier and senior guard Roger Guardia as the standout key players of the night. Webster set the tempo and his 10 assists proved to be the icing on the cake for the Titans’ success to spread the floor.

“(The team’s) chemistry was terrific,” Burton said. “We’ve had so many injuries, JV went down, Andre (Hardy) has not come back and we have new kids who have to make transitions.”

Guardia stepped it up and dropped 14 points off the bench, shooting perfectly behind the perimeter, by sinking four, and was able to help move the ball smoothly across the court.

The Titans led by as much as 14 over the Toreros. With a number of fouls called on San Diego, Chin was sent to the free-throw line early and often where he hit 10 of 14 from the charity stripe.

The Titans shot 58.7 percent from the floor as they were able to seal the cap on a two-game sweep over the Toreros, having beat them Nov. 21, 62-59.

As the Titans take their enthusiasm and excitement from this win, they know they have a tough schedule ahead facing big opponents. Webster said it is games like these where the team is not expected to win, but through hard work, dedication and faith in the team, they can come out on top.

“Going against Arizona is going to be a tough one, they are very athletic and talented,” Webster said. “It’s going to be a hostile environment, but we, as a team, are expecting to win. We are going to go out, play our hardest.”

The Titans head out on the road to take on Arizona, Wednesday for a FOX Sports broadcast matchup at 5:30 p.m. and Portland State Sunday at 2 p.m.