Cal State Fullerton shooting guard Jermaine Harper had the fate of the game in his hands Friday night against the Eastern Washington Eagles.
And he refused to let his team go down.
Harper sunk a 23-foot 3-pointer at the top of the key with four seconds remaining as the Titans came away with a dramatic 70-68 overtime victory on the road against the Eagles.
"It was really exciting for me," Harper said. "This is was the best shot I ever made. It was even better than the one I had against Maryland because I had a bigger role in this victory."
The win improves Fullerton’s record to 3-2.
Harper did plenty to make up for his zero point performance against Denver by scoring a career high 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists while shooting an efficient 9-for-16 from the field.
"I didn’t let that Denver game affect me, he said." I have confidence in myself and I knew I was going to bounce back and have a better outing. I just had to move on from that game."
The Titans got off to a good start with hard nosed defensive pressure on their guards.
CSUF led by as many as 18 points in the second the half but the Eagles managed to stage a rally. Eastern Washington pulled within four points of the Titans with under a minute remaining in regulation.
But CSUF point guard Bobby Brown knocked down a couple of free throws to extend the lead to six.
However, Fullerton couldn’t throw the knockout blow as the Eagles and forward Marc Axton closed the gap. Axton scored 16, three of which came from the free throw line in the closing seconds and forced overtime.
In overtime, the Titans fell behind by two points in the closing moments. Out of the timeout, Fullerton coach Bob Burton wanted to his players to penetrate and kick the ball out to his open shooters.
The team executed to perfection as Brown drove into the teeth of the defense and found Harper at the top of the key.
"I was really excited when he (Harper) made that shot, but I didn’t really have time to think and celebrate because we had to get back on defense," Brown said.
Right after the shot, Brown stole the ball to prevent any kind of heroics from the Eagles to end the game.
Brown had a career night scoring 30 points and knocking down five 3-point shots while shooting 11-for-20 from the field.
Forward Yaphett King led the Titans with eight rebounds and was solid across the board with 12 points and five steals.
Fullerton was a miserable 8-for-20 from the free throw line (40%). However, the Eagles weren’t much better as they were 13-for-26 and turned the ball over 24 times.
Fullerton next game is on the road against the San Diego State Aztecs Tuesday night.
Tip off is schedule for 7:05 p.m.
"I really can’t wait," Brown said. It going to give a different outlook to our team."