The Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team dropped a 76-59 decision to the Highlanders – the last place team in the Big West Conference – in a game where they never had the lead.
“I was worried about this game,” said Titan Head Coach Bob Burton. “Riverside played great, they had a great game plan and they played great defense on us.”
Senior guard Aaron Thompson had a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Titans had no answer for UCR junior forward Kyle Austin, who already outscored two teams in a half by himself this season and nearly outscored the Titans with 21 first half points.
No matter who was guarding him, he dominated the entire game from start to finish, ending the game with a career-high 35 points and 11 rebounds.
“Austin carried them (UCR) on his back. They deserve all the credit,” Burton said. “We were outcoached and outplayed in every phase of the game.”
The more energetic Highlanders jumped out of the gate with a 6-0 lead.
“We didn’t have that focus or drive in the beginning of the game to come out and play basketball,” Streeter said.
The rest of the first period would drag on in the slow tempo that the Highlanders preferred and it put the Titans in a funk.
UCR was simply more active and it gave them a 36-27 halftime lead over CSUF.
Coming out for the second half it was more of the same story for the Titans.
They cut the lead down to three with 15:08 left in the game but that was the closest they would ever get.
The Titans tried to fight back but could not knock down any free throws consistently and were without a single field goal in the last 6:39 of the game.
“This is just another lesson for us, we can’t come out flat,” Thompson said. “We have to play hard and execute the game plan.”
The Titans were a step slow in every facet of the game.
Missed free throws and lack of rebounding were the reason why they could never cut the lead down.
CSUF shot an uncharacteristic 56.7 percent from the charity stripe, a far cry from being the No. 1 free throw shooting team in the conference before the start of the game.
Normally a good rebounding team – second in the Big West – the Titans were outrebounded 39-24 and allowed 12 offensive rebounds.
“I hope our guys take a good hard look in the mirror and understand how hard we have to work to win,” said Burton. “It’s amazing, we can go win at UCLA, win at Long Beach — have great wins — but those are easy games to play in. These are the ones that are really hard, especially when you play guys who are well-coached and really tough like Riverside.”
The Titans’ next game is at UC Irvine on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.