Titans Win Number 17

(Photo by Matt Brown) Thoughts, opinions and observations from Saturday night's victory over Cal Poly SLO. Senior forward Yaphett King's three-point play with 9.1 seconds remaining lifted Cal State Fullerton to a 78-76 victory over Cal Poly SLO in a Big West Conference men's basketball game Saturday night before 2,083 in Mott Gym.

The win gives Cal State Fullerton a winning conference road record for the first time in its Div. I history (dates to 1974-75) at 5-4.

Overall, the Titans have a winning road record at 8-7 (includes 1-1 on neutral site) for the first time since 1988-89. The 17 wins is the most since the 1986-87 team went 17-13. It also kept Fullerton's chances alive to finish as high as second place in the Big West Conference.

Classy fans, classy bands and no harassment

Mott Gym is a tough place to play and they have one of the best bands in the conference. It's amazing to me what can happen when a school and its administration back a program. This is a team that has won 5 games all year and is dead last in the Big West yet they had a fantastic turnout. Ushers and everyone we had contact with were helpful and friendly. They had booths set up all over the place and it was refreshing to see such a good sense of community and school spirit. It was clear that the staff's number one priority was to make sure the fans were welcome and they wanted them to have fun. Good strategy and foresight on the schools part.

Imagine hiring people who actually like other people. No one was harassed when going to their seats, just the opposite. My ticket was checked once and each time thereafter I was immediately recognized and was greeted with a smile. At historic Titan Gym, after 25 years, I still have to show my ticket stub at least four times every time I enter my section.

The irony of the night was watching a huge group of troubled "Challenger" youths being ushered in to Mott Gym whereas, at Fullerton, longtime boosters and innocent fans are handcuffed and ushered out. Night and day experience and I commend the folks at Cal Poly SLO for having their act together.

Big Lead Squandered

The 30+ fans who made the trip were a non-factor because of Mott's home court advantage but that did not stop the Titans from dominating the first 30 minutes of the game. Ralphy Holmes was unstoppable. After Jamaal Brown and Jermaine Harper each picked up two early fouls the bench (Justin Burns, John Clemmons and Derek Quinet) came in a did great job. The Titans ended the half with a 16 point lead. the second half started slow for the Titans but after 10 minutes were gone the Titans added two more points to their halftime lead and the game appeared to be over.

As a Titan fan, you know better. In a 9 minute run, SLO had taken a 3 point lead. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it. Luckily there was still one more minute to play and luckily we had one player who really wanted the ball. Senior Yaphett King saved the day for the Titans with a one-foot lay-in and a foul by Nick Enzweiler.

In the past decade this was most certainly a devastating loss. As has become the norm this season, this team came through when it counted. Sure the Titans need to learn from this game ... but a win on the road against a team who was honoring their four seniors in a place like Mott Gym, there is nothing to be ashamed of no matter who the competition. This was a game the Titans should win and, guess what, they did. It's the 17th time this season they have won. I'm feeling pretty good right now and so should this team.