Basketball Team Report: February 15th

Cal State Fullerton coach Bob Burton is beginning to fear the Titans could be the only team in the Big West Conference that fails to qualify for the eight-team conference tournament.

Burton shared those concerns after the Titans blew another late lead in a 70-68 loss to Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10. It was their fourth loss in five games and the second home game in a row in which they let a lead slip away in the final seconds.

UC Riverside edged the Titans 70-69 on Feb. 5 after senior guard Devon Peltier committed a turnover with 20 seconds remaining and his team clinging to a one-point lead. The Highlanders took advantage, scoring the winning basket on Kevin Bradshaw's dunk with three seconds to play.

The Titans blew a 14-point second-half lead in the loss to Cal State Northridge. The Titans led 68-66 following two free throws from junior guard Perry Webster, but Webster committed a turnover moments later, leading to a go-ahead 3-pointer by Cal State Northridge freshman Josh Greene, and the Titans missed three shots in the final 16 seconds.

"It was a real shame that we played so hard and at times so good, but not good enough to win," Burton said. "We had a lead and enough points to win the game. But just like the other night (against UC Riverside), we found a way to let it get away from us. If we take care of the ball and get decent shots and convert at the line ... we gotta step up and win the game. But that's what 9-16 teams do."

Burton lamented the fact that the Titans concluded their three-game homestand with back-to-back losses. They will play three of their final four regular-season games on the road, where they were 2-10 this season through Feb. 14. The Titans will visit UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 16, Pacific on March 3 and UC Davis on March 5.

"It's frustrating that we let two opportunities at home get away from us," Burton said following the loss to Cal State Northridge. "We're going to have a tough time qualifying for the postseason tournament. It only gets tougher with road games at Santa Barbara, Pacific and Davis and one home game against Cal Poly, which will be (difficult) like this one."



NOTES, QUOTES

--Cal State Fullerton coach Bob Burton had been pleased with the recent play of junior G Orlando Brown. Brown scored 11 points on 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point range and 5-of-5 shooting from the free-throw line in a 70-69 loss to UC Riverside on Feb. 5. He had a season-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range, in a 70-68 loss to Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10.

--The Titans had struggled on defense this season. Through Feb. 14, they were seventh in the Big West Conference in field-goal percentage defense (.442) and 3-point percentage defense (.334), eighth in scoring defense (73.8 ppg) and steals (5.3 spg), and last in blocked shots (1.4 bpg). They were 289th in the nation in scoring defense.

--The Titans' normally reliable free-throw shooting failed them in the 70-68 loss to Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10. The Titans were third in the Big West and 62nd in the nation in free-throw shooting at 72.9 percent through Feb. 14. They made 20 of 23 (.870) free-throw attempts in the Feb. 5 loss to UC Riverside but converted just 20 of 29 (.690) against Cal State Northridge.

BY THE NUMBERS: 329th -- Where Cal State Fullerton ranked nationally among 336 ranked Division I teams in blocked shots through Feb. 14. The Titans were averaging just 1.4 blocks per game, the fewest in the Big West Conference.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Orlando Brown was absolutely terrific. We deserved to win so he could enjoy this game. He has really come alive, but we can't get everyone playing well." -- Cal State Fullerton coach Bob Burton, following his team's 70-68 loss to Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10.



STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

--at UC Santa Barbara, Feb. 16

KEY MATCHUPS: The Titans used a late 9-0 run to rally past the Gauchos 63-58 when these two teams met in Fullerton on Jan. 22. Junior F Orane Chin presented problems for the Gauchos, scoring 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Senior G Devon Peltier didn't shoot the ball well, making just four of 13 from the field and two of seven from 3-point range before finishing with 14 points, but he could have a big night if he has a hot hand. UC Santa Barbara coach Bob Williams recently lamented that "the 3-ball has just killed this team," and few in the Big West Conference make more than Peltier.



PLAYER NOTES

--Senior F Jer'Vaughn Johnson was remarkably efficient around the basket in recent weeks, making 29 of 44 (.659) from the field over a five-game stretch from Jan. 25 to Feb. 10. Johnson was second in the Big West and 21st in the nation in field-goal percentage at 57.9 percent through Feb. 14.

--Junior F Andre Hardy recorded a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10. Despite missing the first 11 games with an injury, Hardy was leading the team with four double-doubles in 13 games through Feb. 14. He also was one rebound short of posting a double-double in three other games.

--Freshman G Isiah Umipig was relatively quiet against UC Riverside on Feb. 5 and Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10 after matching his career high with 19 points against UC Irvine on Feb. 3. Umipig scored five points against the Highlanders and eight against the Matadors, making five of 14 field-goal attempts.