It became clear that the University of La Verne Leopards couldn’t keep pace with Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball midway through the first half, when the Titans tried increasingly ambitious lob passes to each other out of their half-court sets.
Things didn’t get much more competitive from there as the Titans cruised to a 112-57 win Friday night in their lone exhibition game of the 2017-18 season.
“I feel like we were just able to drive the lanes and we were being unselfish,” said Titans guard Kyle Allman. “I think we were playing for each other, and I think it benefited us in a big way.”
The Titans started the game on an 11-2 run and never looked back.
With their starting lineup of Jackson Rowe, Kyle Allman Jr., Arkim Robertson, Austen Awosika and Khalil Ahmad combining for 10-11 shooting in the first half, the Titans compiled a 51-24 lead to end the period.
The bench chipped in as well, with freshman reserve Landon Kirkwood leading the team in scoring with 13 points, something he “definitely” thinks he can do more often this season.
“I’m going to do what I have to, just trying to get the W,” Kirkwood said.
La Verne did everything but throw a literal kitchen sink at Fullerton in its efforts to stop the Titans. The Leopards tried man-to-man defense. They tried zone defense. They tried a full-court press.
None of it was enough to slow CSUF’s pass-happy offense as the team cut through its exhibition opponents like a knife through butter while shooting 59.7 percent for the game and racking up 22 assists.
“I thought the guys did a pretty good job of trying to get each other shots, which is something that we’ve been preaching since we’ve been here, and this team is starting to understand it,” said Titans Head Coach Dedrique Taylor.
Not much changed in the second half for the Titans, who simply outclassed La Verne (a Division III school) in the amount of talent on their roster.
They won’t boast that type of advantage when they open their season Friday Nov. 10 on the road against USC — which is ranked No. 10 in the country — but the Titans are hoping their momentum from their huge exhibition win can carry over as their games start to count.
“We just have to focus on the little things like communication, boxing out and just cleaning the little things up,” Kirkwood said.