An overtime win sent UC Davis home with Kyle Allman Jr. and Khalil Ahmad posting 52 combined points for Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball in their 75-71 victory in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals in thrilling fashion.
The Aggies’ four points in overtime weren’t enough to overcome the eight points CSUF put up in the extra five minutes of the game as they held UC Davis to 1-for-5 shooting from the field.
The Titans were the first to strike in overtime, as Allman scored and hit a foul shot eleven seconds into the extra period to give CSUF a three-point lead. Allman made the only field goal for the Titans in overtime, but CSUF went 6-for-7 from the free throw line in the period.
“We had some crucial plays where we got to the free throw line and were able to score,” Taylor said. “(That would) allow our defense to get set after a dead ball versus allowing them to get into transition.”
Guard Ahmad led the way for the Titans by scoring 32 points, with 23 of them coming after the first half. Allman, Fullerton’s other leading scorer, played 44 of the 45 minutes of the game and scored 20 points.
UC Davis’ TJ Shorts II led the way for the Aggies with 28 points but struggled at the foul line, making one of seven free throw attempts.
The free-throw battle was an X-factor in the game, as the Titans made 23 of their 32 attempts at the line. UC Davis shot 11 free throws and made only four of them.
“That’s the way our system is built; to get downhill and get to the paint and try to finish, or get fouled, or both. Tonight we executed that particular gameplan,” Taylor said.
The Aggies also struggled shooting behind the arc as they shot 21.4 percent.
The Aggies started the game with a hot hand going on a 6-0 run, but the Titans followed with their own 9-0 run, capped off by an Ahmad three-pointer.
But a scoreless six minutes cooled the Titans offense significantly and created a back-and-forth game that saw the Titans gripping on to a one-point lead at the half. Allman ended the first half with a layup that gave the CSUF a 33-32 lead.
Allman led the Titans in the first half with 13 points on four-for-five shooting as the Titans shot 54.5 percent from the field. Going into this game, the Titans were 14-5 when leading at the half.
Shorts led UC Davis with 12 points in six successful shots on ten attempts. The Aggies shot 50 percent from the field but were 0-for-7 from three-point territory.
UC Davis came out of the second half hot to reclaim the lead, but Fullerton took advantage of a three-minute Aggie-scoring drought as the Titans scored seven unanswered points to reclaim the lead.
The game remained close, and with less than a minute left, Ahmad hit a three-pointer to give the Titans a two-point lead, but UC Davis’ Joe Mooney would respond with a layup to tie the game.
“Big West basketball at its finest,” said CSUF head coach Dedrique Taylor. “We were fortunate to scratch and claw and come out on top.”
The Titans will play UC Santa Barbara in the semifinal. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.