Mens basketball: down on players, up on wins

Despite only using seven players, the Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team rolled to their seventh win in eight games, defeating Portland State 86-69 Saturday as part of the ESPNU Bracket Buster at the Titan Gym.

Josh Akognon led four Titans in double figures with a game-high 26 points on 10-17 shooting. Frank Robinson added his fourth double-double of the season, with 20 points and 11 rebounds, to improve the teams' record to 18-7. The loss snapped the Big Sky Conference-leading Vikings, 18-9, nine-game winning streak.

"Josh [Akognon] is officially out of his slump," Robinson said.

Akognon has shot 63.3 percent the last two games, as opposed to the 32 percent he shot in five games after injuring his right pinky finger against UC Davis on Jan. 19.

Akognon attributed his shooting success against Portland State to the team not seeing the Titans play before.

The Titans were, however, pressing early in the game. The team started the game missing its first four shots and committing two turnovers until finally settling down.

With the Vikings up 13-7, CSUF went on a 21-5 run and never relinquished the lead.

Titan Head Coach Bob Burton said the key to the recent hot streak has been the emerging play of point guard Ray Reed.

The senior finished with 14 points on 6-10 shooting and five assists and has started the past three games since the suspension of Greg "Junior" Russell and injury of Marcus Crenshaw. Burton said Reed would start the rest of the season.

"He's been phenomenal," Burton said. "You talk about a player stepping up and being terrific -- He's the reason we're winning right now."

With the Vikings attempting to change the momentum in the second half, Robinson took control and quickly ended any comeback hopes.

After starting the game shooting 1-6, the senior scored the Titans first six points of the second half. He finished 9-18 from the floor.

"He [Robinson] was trying to do way too much and just settled in as the game progressed," Burton said. "He was a whole different player in the second half."

Robinson said he tried too hard to shoot himself into the game. He let plays happen for him in the second half.

"I decided to attack the rim. I know I'm stronger than most guards and took advantage of it," Robinson said. "The main thing with scoring is seeing the ball go through the hoop. Once you see that, it becomes way easier."

The Titans were almost down another player as reigning Big West Player of the Week Scott Cutley was a game-time decision after missing practice the entire week with a bad back. The starting forward said he tweaked his back Tuesday during the teams' first practice of the week.

"It's real stiff and I'll just have to keep heat on it," Cutley said.

With Cutley hurt, the Titans will need all the help they can get during the stretch run.

Crenshaw, the Big West Sixth Man of the Year last season, missed his first game of the season due to a broken nose, but will practice tomorrow and both players said they would play in next week's games. Crenshaw sustained the injury Feb. 9 against Cal Poly.

Now, the Titans will turn their attention to this week's showdown for first place in the Big West Conference against Cal State Northridge. The Titans defeated the Matadors 80-72 in their only other meeting this season, Feb. 2 at the Matadome.

Robinson said the team still has a lot of work to do in the final few weeks of the season.

"We're not peaking yet," Robinson said. "We have our goal to win the conference and win the [conference] tournament, but if we come in next week and play well, we should set ourselves up just fine."

The Titans take on the Matadors, Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Titan Gym.