DETROIT – The combination of size and perimeter shooting showcased by Purdue University overpowered Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball as the Titans lost 74-48 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Little Caesars Arena.
After keeping the score within single digits for nearly the entire first half, the Boilermakers opened the floodgates during the final 20 minutes, putting up 44 points.
“I thought the first team that could find their rhythm offensively would come out on top and unfortunately for us Purdue did that,” Titans Head Coach Dedrique Taylor said.
The Boilermakers connected on 44.8 percent of their shots in the second half after sinking just over 30 percent of their shots in the first. Additionally, they hit six-of-eleven threes in the process.
Unable to keep up, Fullerton floundered to a measly 27 points in the final 20 minutes. Guard Kyle Allman led the way with 21 points and 5 rebounds. Forward Jackson Rowe was the only other Titan in double figures (10).
“I was confident throughout the whole game. My confidence didn’t waver,” Allman said.
Free throws and rebounds propelled Purdue in the Boilermakers’ second-half outburst. The team connected on 12 of its 15 attempts from the line and grabbed seven more rebounds than CSUF.
Taylor believes the Boilermakers’ physicality wore the Titans down.
“That was a key point of emphasis for us,” Taylor said. “In these types of games, you can’t afford to give up transition baskets or second-chance points.”
Isaac Haas was one of the tallest and strongest players CSUF saw all season. Although forward Arkim Robertson watched film on Haas, the senior was still stunned by how powerful Purdue’s center was.
“He’s a big dude. I didn’t expect him to be that big,” Robertson said. “He was tough to guard so I had to match his physicality.
In the final 22 minutes and 20 seconds of the game, the Titans were outscored by 24 points.
The Titans still said they never stopped fighting.
“They went on a little run at the end, but we were battling. We were competing. We felt really confident coming out,” guard Jamal Smith said.
With this first-round out in the NCAA Tournament, the Titans finished the 2017-18 season with a 20-12 record, the first 20-win season since the 2011-12 campaign, leaving Taylor feeling as though his team had made progress despite the defeat.
“I’m extremely proud of their sacrifice, what they’ve made, what they’ve done, the maturity they’ve shown and their ability to get better day in and day out,” Taylor said.