Titans advance to semi-finals

Anaheim -- The No. 3 seed Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team scored the first 11 points of the game and never looked back, defeating No. 7 UC Riverside 81-69 on Thursday at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The win advances the Titans into the semifinals to take on No. 2 Northridge Friday at 8 p.m. The Titans split the season series with the Matadors, with Northridge handing the Titans their only loss in the past 10 games. The Titans also broke last season's single season record for most points scored in a season, with the total currently at 2,480.

Junior Josh Akognon scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Titans and senior Frank Robinson added 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the win.

The duo came out strong after being selected to the All-Big West Second Team. They combined for the first eight points of the game and scored the Titans first 13 points in the second half to help seal the win.

Robinson said he feels he has something prove after missing out on the first team.

"I think I should have played like that all season," Robinson said. "I wish I had that chip on my shoulder all year. This is my competitive nature and now I feel like I have something to prove in my last tournament in the Big West."

CSUF Head Coach Bob Burton said the Titans top two scorers played great and that Akognon is playing to prove something as well.

"[Akognon's] got a chip there and I'd like to leave his there," Burton said.

The Titans started the game with intense defensive pressure, forcing the Highlanders into 15 first-half turnovers.

"I was impressed with how Riverside played last night [against Cal Poly]," Burton said. "The first part of the game our pressure really bothered them, and the I think they really wore us down in the second."

Robinson, the Big West Defensive Player of the Year, shut down the Highlanders leading scorer Larry Cunningham in the first half. The senior missed all six of his first half shot attempts and turned the ball over three times. The second half, however, was a different story.

Cunningham scored 23 points in 17 minutes to bring the Highlanders back into the game.

"I didn't step up accordingly [in the first half]," Cunningham said. "I think we calmed down [in the second half] as far as the tempo and intensity. We stood up and made some plays."

The senior finishes his collegiate career as UCR's all-time leading scorer, scoring 1,502 points in four years.

"I'm disappointed we didn't win the ball game, but not disappointed in these kids," Wooldridge said. "Fullerton is just one of the top-tier teams in this league. I really like their talent and like what they can do all over the floor."

Big West Co-Most Valuable Player Scott Cutley was held in check most of the game.

"They were really just messing with me [and] the guards were sinking down when I got the ball in the post," Cutley said. "In the first half, I was really hesitant. I didn't know if I wanted to pass it out or if I wanted to go attack. Hopefully next game I can come out and play better."

They play against the Matadors in their next game for the right to play in the Big West final. Robinson said he has been looking forward to a rematch.

"That game at home (82-74 loss on Feb. 28) was real intense and we took a lot personally," Robinson said. "To lose to them hurt, so we have something to prove."

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