“I thought our kids played absolutely terrific and I couldn’t have been prouder,” Head Coach Bob Burton said.
The player of the game was senior forward Gerard Anderson, who led the Titans with a career-high 22 points and made all eight of his field goals, including some dunks that rocked Titan Gym.
Although Anderson has struggled with consistency this season, he has been nearly unstoppable in big games against UCLA and LBSU.
“I wish I could play like that every game but it was just the feeling of the atmosphere of the game and our rivalry,” Anderson said.
Not known as an outside shooting threat, he also made three three-pointers, even though he was 0-for-4 on three-pointers coming into the game in his entire CSUF career.
Sophomore guard Jacques Streeter contributed 20 points and was 5-for-9 from the three-point line.
“It’s just repetition, every night I come up here and shoot,” Streeter said. “I just feel confident in my shot and it goes in.”
The interior tandem of juniors Jer’Vaughn Johnson and Bryce Webster combined for 25 points and 16 rebounds. They gave the 49ers fits all game with their size and strength.
49ers’ junior guard Greg Plater came off the bench and shot his way to a team-high 18 points.
LBSU sophomore forward T.J. Robinson came into the contest fourth in the nation in double-doubles, but he was not able to establish his presence inside and fell just short of his tenth double-double of the season.
The Titans (6-7, 1-1 Big West), played swarming defense right from the opening tip. This was the key to their success.
“We have been like this in practice since day one,” Anderson said. “We are just trying to bring it over to the game and hopefully we can get wins out of it.”
The raucous crowd of students who were on winter vacation came to show their support.
It was evident that the rivalry has heated up between the two schools only separated by 25 miles.
A sea of orange filled the seats and screamed at the top of their lungs, which definitely helped the Titans with their confidence.
“The crowd was behind us and I just loved it,” Streeter said.
Both teams pushed the pace to catch the opposing defense off-guard.
With LBSU sophomore guard Casper Ware and CSUF’s Streeter, it was a matchup of two of the Big West’s best point guards.
“We think (Ware) is terrific, and he was,” Burton said. “We had to shift players on him.”
Both proved to be on top of their game as they were scoring and getting their teammates involved in the early going.
The game started off with an early 5-0 run courtesy of an Anderson spin move layup and senior guard Aaron Thompson’s three-pointer.
Then, as LBSU crawled back, Streeter hit two straight three-pointers to force 49er Head Coach Dan Monson to call a timeout.
Anderson made a statement with a block on LBSU senior guard Stephan Gilling’s three-point attempt that sailed into the stands with 1:34 left in the first half.
At halftime, the Titans led 37-31, and the momentum was clearly in their favor as they shot 50 percent from the field.
When they came out for the second half, every LBSU jab was met with an even stronger, more aggressive jab from CSUF, with monstrous throw-downs by Anderson, Johnson and Thompson.
The most memorable one was with 13 minutes left in the game when Thompson flew over Robinson for an amazing dunk that had the crowd buzzing and in awe.
When talking about the slam, Thompson said, “I just took it to the basket and it seemed like the Red Sea parted.”
This pushed the lead to 11 points and eventually LBSU fired back, tying the game at 50-50.
Three-pointers by Streeter and Anderson gave the Titans another double-digit lead.
The closest the ‘Niners ever got after that was within three points with a little over a minute left in the game.
Webster sealed the win with a dunk of his own with 23 seconds remaining on the clock.
In this game, the Titans were just better all across the board; they played within themselves and got the 49ers out of sync.
“Wins have been hard for us,” Burton said. “It was one of the really great performances against Long Beach since I’ve been here.”
The Titans look to get another Big West win when they travel to UC Riverside on Saturday.
The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net, tip-off is scheduled at 4 p.m.