The Titans couldn’t figure out how to stop the USC Trojans in a 78-63 loss, that showcased Trojan center Rory O’Neil who finished with a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds.
O’Neil, who came into the game averaging six points a game, consistently connected from all over the court with a mid-range jump shot and a nice inside game.
“I just got in a zone,” O’Neil said. “I had a lot of confidence with my shot.”
The Trojans defensive intensity increased as the game went on and USC began to pull away from the Titans mid way through the first half. With a lead that reached as high as 23, Titan head coach Donny Daniels tried to find a silver lining.
“The only salvation we have is that if we don’t play like we did, as hard as we did,” Daniels said, “we get blown out by forty.”
Ralphy Holmes led the Titans in scoring with 21, but only scored five in the second half, as Fullerton shot 36 percent from the field.
“He didn’t try to force shots,” Daniels said. “He was a little out of control towards the end.”
Similar to prior games, the Titans started off with the press that was effective early, but it’s a defense that requires tons of energy, something they couldn’t sustain throughout the game.
“We have to be committed to what were doing,” Daniels said. “We have to be an every time team, not a sometime team.”
Forward Pape Sow, ended the night with 18 points but again saw his healthy dose of double teams. This time it was 6-11 center Kostas Charissis, 6-8 Nick Curtis and the 6-11 O’Neil that clearly gave him fits in the post.
Sow scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but other than Holmes and a 12-point performance by Derric Andrew, no other Titan scored more than four points.
Daniels still has confidence that his team’s shooting will come around.
“I think it will come,” said Daniels said. “We hope we can use this game to help us improve and get us ready for the Big West.”
With the score 27-20, Desmond Farmer hit a jumper then stole the ball as Zakee Smith brought it up the court. Farmer then flew in for a left-handed tomahawk jam that brought the 2,096 in attendance to their feet.
Robert Hutchinson followed the dunk with another steal and a lay-up pushing the score to 33-20 and sucking the life out of the Titans, who never came closer than 13 again.
Hutchinson torched the Titans all game, going 3-3 from behind the arc, and finishing with 17 points and four assists.
Errick Craven scored 11 points, all in the first half, but it was enough support for a Trojan team that shot 52 percent in the game.
The Titans have lost three in a row since beating Morris Brown on Dec. 2, two of the losses have come away from Titan Gym, where they face Idaho State on Saturday night.
A frustrated Daniels banged the side of a metal wall as he walked off the court.
“We have a long way to go,” he said