Despite optimism from CSUF men’s basketball heading into the team’s NCAA Tournament matchup with the Purdue Boilermakers, the Titans couldn’t shock the world or bust any brackets, falling 74-48 in Detroit.
Big West leading scorer Kyle Allman poured in 21 points to lead CSUF, but he and forward Jackson Rowe (10 points on 3-5 shooting) were the only Titans to score in double figures as the Titans shot just 36.7 percent from the field.
Things were starting to look apocalyptic for CSUF as they trailed 20-12 in the first half and were in the midst of a scoring drought that had lasted nearly five minutes. However, the Titans’ backcourt answered back with two straight threes as Fullerton seemed like it wasn’t going to back down from the heavily favored Boilermakers.
But Purdue showed why they were so such favorites as the clock ticked down on the first 20 minutes of play, holding CSUF to just a solitary free throw over the final three minutes of the half to take a 30-21 lead at the break.
The Boilermakers took the Titans out of their game in the first half, holding CSUF — which ranked second in the Big West in free throw attempts — to just five free throws in the first half and 16 in the game.
Making matters worse for Fullerton was that despite both teams shooting below 35 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes, Purdue drew 12 freebies and sunk seven of them to compensate for their lack of success from the field.
The Titans either needed their stars to go off or beat the Boilermakers with superior team play to pull off the upset, and they got neither as the second half went on. CSUF turned the ball over 17 times to Purdue’s 9 as the Boilermakers outscored the Titans 44-27 in the second half to pull away in a laugher.
The Titans had no answers for the Boilermakers size inside — getting outrebounded 44-34 in the game — or their superior shooting as Purdue knocked went a 9-22 (40.9 percent) on 3-pointers compared to the Titans’ own 4-18 (22.2 percent).
The defeat was still progress for the Titans, who hadn’t even made the NCAA Tournament since 2008, but the loss sends them home to Fullerton winless.