The Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team was swept by UC Santa Barbara in a hard fought 73-65 loss at Titan Gym Wednesday night.
“It was a really discouraging loss, I thought it was such a winnable game,” said Titan Head Coach Bob Burton. “Santa Barbara is really good and their defense is hard to score against.”
The Titans out-muscled the Gauchos on the glass with a 44-28 rebounding advantage – including 17 offensive rebounds – but could not score over UCSB’s swarming defense.
“When the game was really on the line we didn’t step up,” Burton said. “We didn’t put the ball in the basket when we had easy shots, and we didn’t get key stops.”
Senior forward Gerard Anderson was one of three Titans with a team-high 14 points and was 10-of-12 from the free throw line.
At the beginning of the game, the Titans could not handle the Gauchos’ match-up zone and were very careless with the ball.
CSUF slowly cut the lead down by getting everyone involved and led for the first time at 30-29.
Redshirt sophomore forward Orane Chin was a sparkplug with key defensive plays and had eight points by halftime.
The Titans had a 22-9 rebound edge in the first half but the Gauchos’ 12 points off turnovers gave them a 35-34 lead at intermission.
At the start of the second half neither team could get into a rhythm offensively.
Senior guard Aaron Thompson made a three-pointer to tie the game at 49-49 and redshirt junior forward Jer’Vaughn Johnson’s dunk gave the Titans their first lead in the second half with 9:28 left in regulation.
On the next offensive possession, sophomore guard Jacques Streeter drove to the basket while drawing a couple defenders and dished to Thompson who knocked down a three-pointer to give the Titans a five-point lead – their largest of the game.
However, less than two minutes later, the Gauchos responded and tied the game at 55-55.
“We gave a lot of effort and blew the lead when we had it because they were hungrier than we were,” Anderson said.
With three minutes left, UCSB junior guard Justin Joyner’s three-pointer – his first points of the season – gave the Gauchos’ a 60-58 lead and they never looked back.
“It seemed like when little things went wrong, it really bothered our team mentally and we didn’t get over that,” Burton said.
The Titans were threatening but the final dagger was when UCSB had two consecutive three-point plays.
“We couldn’t get stops at key points, we needed to tighten up defensively,” Johnson said. “If we got those stops we would’ve won.”
The Titans are now 7-6 in the Big West but are still third in the conference.
CSUF looks to get back in the win column against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at Titan Gym Saturday at 4:05 p.m. as part of ESPN Bracketbusters.