Basketball Team Report: February 24th

Cal State Fullerton's road woes had put the Titans in a perilous position heading into the final weeks of the regular season.

Cal State Fullerton fell to 2-14 on the road this season with an 86-71 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 16 and an 84-79 loss to Idaho State on Feb. 19. The Titans had lost six in a row and 11 of 12 away from home as of Feb. 21.

Cal State Fullerton's defensive and rebounding deficiencies were exposed again in the loss to UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos shot 56 percent from the field and made 10 of 20 from 3-point range while outrebounding the Titans 30-22. The Titans had no answers for junior forward James Nunnally, who had 27 points and a career-high 13 rebounds, and junior guard Orlando Johnson, who scored 20 points on nine field-goal attempts.

Idaho State also attacked the Titans' suspect perimeter defense, shooting 48 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range. The Titans outrebounded the Bengals 31-21, but they squandered the advantage by committing 17 turnovers. This time it was Idaho State guard Broderick Gilchrest who feasted on the Titans' defense, scoring 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and 6-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc.

Opponents had found weaknesses to exploit since Cal State Fullerton stunned first-place Long Beach State 89-87 on Jan. 19 and beat UC Santa Barbara 63-58 on Jan. 22. The Titans had lost four in a row and six of seven going into a Feb. 26 game against second-place Cal Poly.

The Titans will play the Mustangs at home, but then they will conclude the regular season on the road against Pacific on March 3 and UC Davis on March 5. They were in sixth place in the Big West at 5-8 going into the Cal Poly game. They held a 1 1/2-game lead over last-place UC Davis, which is significant given that one Big West team won't get a bid to the eight-team conference tournament. The Titans' regular-season finale at UC Davis may end up making that determination.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

--Cal State Fullerton blocked just 35 shots in its first 26 games. The Titans were last in the Big West and 331st in the nation through Feb. 21, averaging 1.3 blocks per game.

--The Titans have been fairly good on the road under coach Bob Burton in recent years, going 60-65 since 2004-05, but as of Feb. 21 they were just 2-13 on the road this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 301st -- Where Cal State Fullerton ranked nationally among 336 Division I teams in scoring defense through Feb. 21. The Titans were eighth in the Big West Conference, allowing 74.2 points per game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think I've ever felt this bad. I told the team, 'I feel worse for me than you.'" -- Cal State Fullerton coach Bob Burton, on his team's struggles, to the Orange County Register.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

--vs. Cal Poly, Feb. 26

KEY MATCHUPS: The Titans played the Mustangs tough when they met Jan. 13 in the San Luis Obispo, but David Hanson proved to be too much in Cal Poly's 58-54 victory. Hanson had 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting with eight rebounds, and the Mustangs held the Titans to 32.7 percent shooting from the field and 2-of-18 (.111) shooting from 3-point range. Cal State Fullerton would be wise to try to get the ball inside to forwards Jer'Vaughn Johnson, Andre Hardy and Orane Chin, but they'll need better perimeter shooting from guards Devon Peltier and Perry Webster, who combined to make one of 10 from beyond the arc in the first game.

PLAYER NOTES

--Junior G Perry Webster continued to lead the Big West Conference in assists (5.16 apg) through Feb. 21 but had slipped to second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4).

--Senior G Devon Peltier was first in the Big West and 13th in the nation in free-throw shooting through Feb. 21, making 89.9 percent from the stripe.

--Junior F Orane Chin scored 16 points in an 86-71 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 16, bouncing back nicely after being held scoreless for the first time this season in a 70-68 loss to Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10.

--Junior G Orlando Brown was held scoreless in the Feb. 16 loss to UC Santa Barbara after scoring a total of 27 points in the two previous games. He had 11 against UC Riverside on Feb. 5 and a career-high 16 against Cal State Northridge on Feb. 10.