Titans men’s basketball rebound after loss to UCSB with big win at Hawaii

In Sports, Top Stories
Kyle Allman leads the team in points per game averaging 18.9 (Katie Albertson / Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball dropped its third straight game to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Thursday but rebounded on Saturday thanks to a historic night from Kyle Allman to defeat Hawaii on the road.

Against Santa Barbara, the Titans led for the entire game until a 3-pointer from Max Heidegger gave the Gauchos a lead with 4 minutes and 20 seconds to play. The two teams exchanged leads until a few empty possessions and quick fouls from Fullerton put Santa Barbara at the line to seal the deal.

“We just gotta finish games. Tonight, we didn’t finish. We let them get some 50-50 plays and loose balls, particularly some rebounding opportunities for themselves to convert, and they executed,” said Titans Head Coach Dedrique Taylor.

CSUF’s defense led the way in the first half. It held Santa Barbara, the Big West conference leader in points per game, to 24 points in the first half, tying the team’s lowest first-half point total of the season.

The Gauchos also turned the ball over nine times in the first half, which almost matched their 9.6 turnovers per game rate they held in Big West play, the fewest in the conference.

However, they cleaned it up in the second half and ended the game with only two additional turnovers.

Fullerton point guard Austen Awosika returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the season opener against University of Southern California. He looked good in the team’s loss, coming up with 14 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.

“I think I stuck to what I’ve been doing. I let the game come to me, play off my teammates and feed off our energy,” Awosika said.

After maintaining the lead for a majority of the second half, shooting struggles began to plague the Titans. Of the nine field goals attempted in the last eight minutes of the game, only two fell.
During this stretch, the Gauchos went on a 26-13 run.

Allman, Fullerton’s leading scorer, finished with 24 points on the night. However, his turnover with less than a minute left in the game gave the ball back to Santa Barbara with a chance to go up three.

(Katie Albertson / Daily Titan)

Allman expressed his frustration with coming up short in the clutch postgame, which goes hand-in-hand with Taylor’s resounding message of the team’s lack of concentration.

“In the first half, the ball was moving and everybody was touching it and we were driving it and getting pretty much what we wanted,” Taylor said. “In the second half, we lost our focus and attention to detail and didn’t execute that particular part of the strategy.”

Ten of UCSB’s final 26 points came from the free throw line, a trend that Taylor wasn’t fond of.

“I thought the officiating was suspect. I thought that helped them a tremendous amount in getting into the bonus,” ” Taylor said.

On the road, the Titans took down Hawaii 69-66 behind a career-high 40 points from Allman.

“We were on a three-game skid so we just wanted to come out here on the road and prove to everybody that we’re not as bad as we’ve been playing,” Allman said.

The entire team had it going against the Rainbow Warriors. Although Jackson Rowe was the only other CSUF player in double figures, they shot 27-44 from the field and converted on 53.3 percent of shots from behind the arc.

Trailing by 11 with 13 minutes and 30 seconds left to play, Allman took it upon himself to carry the team to victory by scoring whenever he pleased and finding open teammates when Hawaii sent multiple defenders his way.

Rowe, by design, was the beneficiary of Allman’s late dimes.

“He told me to find him, so I found him. I knew they were gonna swarm at me so I knew I had to find my teammates,” Allman said.

Despite nearly breaking the school’s single-game scoring record, Taylor was not surprised by Allman’s heroics.

“That’s Kyle. That’s the Kyle that we’ve grown to know. I think he scored a little more than we’re used to but we needed every bit of it,” Taylor said.

The Titans will have their first full week of practice since the end of December as they prepare for a rematch against UC Irvine on Saturday Feb. 3 in Titan Gym.

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