The UC Riverside Highlanders spoiled the Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team’s homecoming as the Titans drop their sixth straight game in Big West Conference play on Saturday.
With the Titan Gym packed for one of the biggest games of the year, the Titans were looking to end their five-game losing streak in front of their spirited fans. This was the second meeting between the two sides as the Titans managed to edge out the Highlanders 79-73 during the first conference game of the season.
Fullerton has since completely fallen off the map and have been unable to formulate any sort of winning effort. Even with the support of the homecoming crowd behind them, the Titans’ struggles continued on Saturday nightThe Highlanders would not go away though as they kept the game within reach, cutting Fullerton’s lead down to four going into halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, both teams were playing with similar intensity levels as they traded basket for basket with the Titans, continuing to hold on to a narrow lead. Unfortunately for the Titans, the Highlanders managed to take a 44-41 lead with about 12 minutes to go in the game and never looked back from there.
The Titans battled hard but would go on to fall in their rematch against the Highlanders by a score of 81-71. This loss puts the team at the bottom of the Big West Conference with a record of 1-6.
Although the Titans are injury-ridden, Fullerton Head Coach Dedrique Taylor was still displeased with his team’s inability to take care of the ball.
Both sides amounted nearly the same number of turnovers, as the Titans committed a total of 14 compared to the Highlanders’ 13. The difference was that Fullerton’s transition defense struggled mightily to keep up with UC Riverside’s fast-break offense, resulting in 20 points off turnovers for the Highlanders.
“I don’t care who you’re playing. If you turn the ball over 14 times and give up 20 points, then you deserve to lose and that’s what happened tonight,” Taylor said.
Along with teammate guard Tre’ Coggins, Akoh finished the game with a Fullerton team-high of 13 points but also logged in seven rebounds and five assists. Coming off of a career-high 27 points in the last game against UC Davis, freshman guard Khalil Ahmad had a relatively quiet night against the Highlanders, only netting nine points on a 36 percent shooting.
The Titans now look ahead in search of their second victory in conference play as they are set to host a rematch versus the UC Davis Aggies this Thursday at 7 p.m. at Titan Gym.