The CSUF men’s basketball team saw their five-game win streak come to end as they fell to UC Irvine 60-53 Wednesday night.
The victory gave UCI the series sweep for the season and extended their win streak to five games. The Titans’ last loss prior to tonight came against UCI, where they fell 63-46 on Jan. 12.
Guard Khalil Ahmad led the game in scoring with 22 points on 8-for-21 shooting. Guard Max Hazzard led the Anteaters in scoring with 19 points. Twelve of Hazzard’s 19 points came from 3-point territory.
UCI forward Jonathan Galloway won the battle of the best rebounders in the conference, as he outrebounded CSUF’s Jackson Rowe 11 to 7.
Guard Kyle Allman Jr. opened up the game with a 3-point shot, but the Anteaters quickly took the lead as both teams traded baskets early on. The defense held UCI scoreless for over four minutes early in the game.
The Titans’ offense was halted as they were held scoreless for nearly six minutes. Luckily, the Anteater offense also went scoreless for over four minutes of that time.
The offensive struggle carried on throughout the entire first half, as the Titans led by three at halftime. Khalil Ahmad led the team in scoring with 13 of the Titans 21 points in the first half.
“Early in the game we got to the paint, and got some free throws, which is what we want to do,” said CSUF head coach Dedrique Taylor.
The Titans shot 7-for-26 (26.9) from the field, while UCI shot 9-for-28 (32.1). The Anteaters had trouble shooting from behind the arc, leaving them 0-for-7 on 3-point shots.
The 18 points scored was the lowest for the Anteaters in a half this season since they scored only 17 in their loss at Butler.
The Titans began the second half with a dunk by Johnny Wang while being fouled. They then made the free throw to complete the 3-point play.
UCI found their rhythm in the second half, when Robert Cartwright ended UCI’s 3-point shooting drought seven minutes into the second half.
Cartwright’s shot sparked the Anteaters to make their next four field goals, which were all 3-point shots. The 15-3 run gave UCI their first lead since the 15:46 mark in the first half, and increased the lead to seven.
“They shot the three ball exceptionally well,” Taylor said. “We didn’t find our rhythm offensively in the second half, started pressing and taking uncharacteristic shots.”
The hot shooting continued for the Anteaters, while the Titans continued to struggle from the field. Clutch shooting at the end of the game gave UCI their biggest lead of the game at 12. The Titans found a rhythm late in the game, making five of their last six field goals, but the deficit was too much for CSUF to overcome.
Taylor said he believes his team can look past the loss to the Big West leaders.
“(We) got to find a way to lick your wounds tonight, and get ready to rock and roll,” Taylor said. “Two more days we’ll play again, and we got to be better.”
The Titans will be back in action Saturday as they visit UC Riverside, with tip scheduled for 5 p.m.