Cal State Fullerton tops UCI 74-68

Faced with the possibility of their fourth straight Big West Conference loss, the Titans needed a spark in their homecoming game at Titan Gym Saturday night.

The bench came alive and scored 38 points to carry the Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team to a 74-68 victory over UC Irvine.

Redshirt sophomore forward Orane Chin came off the bench and reached career-highs in points (23) and rebounds (8).

“Orane Chin played the best that he’s played since he’s been here. He was really the difference at the end, offensively because he was making great offensive plays,” Titan Head Coach Burton said.

The Titans knew they had to stop Anteater sophomore forward Eric Wise, who was averaging 15.7 points coming into the game.

Redshirt junior forward Jer’Vaughn Johnson, who had 15 points and eight rebounds, took on the challenge – even with a bum shoulder – and got it done on both ends of the floor.

Although Wise ended up with 14 points and 13 rebounds, Johnson made him work for every shot and Wise had only one offensive rebound in the second half.

“The key to the game was Jer’Vaughn,” Burton said. “We didn’t know if he could play, and we knew we didn’t have anyone else who could have come close to guarding Wise.”

Sophomore guard Jacques Streeter had a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists.

“I was just being aggressive and getting in the paint and the defense collapsed on me and I just found my teammates,” Streeter said.

His penetration and pinpoint passing broke down the Anteater zone, leading to easy baskets for his teammates.

A scary moment for the Titans was when senior forward Anderson and senior guard Aaron Thompson both went up to block a shot but collided with each other in mid-air.

After the incident, both players were not the same for the rest of the game as they combined for nine turnovers.

Junior guard Devon Peltier was 3-of-4 from behind the arc in the first half and kept the Titans in it.

CSUF led 33-29 at the half, as neither team could build a sizable lead.

In the second period, the Titans were ahead for the first 13:28 until a UCI three-pointer tied the game at 59-59.

The turning point was after a Chin jumper to make the game 63-61.

Over a span of one minute, Chin was living at the charity stripe as he made 6-of-8 from the free throw line.

“I just came out with an aggressive mindset and I was going to take it to the hole and get offensive rebounds and it turned out pretty well,” Chin said.

Unlike past games, the Titans’ offense was more free-flowing and the Titans thrived.

Burton said that he had thrown out most of their offensive plays and the team worked on just playing basketball and spacing the floor.

He said that when they play this way instead of over thinking, they are much better.

The Titans look to sweep the season series against Long Beach State at 8:05 p.m. Thursday at Walter Pyramid.

The game will be televised on ESPNU.

“Last year we beat them (LBSU) Josh Akognon hit a buzzer beater there so they’re going to try to come in and be very aggressive with us,” Streeter said. “Their crowd’s going to be in it and they’re going to try to blow us out and it’s just going to be a fun game because we both like to run, I can’t wait to play.”