After their chances of making March Madness disappeared with a loss to UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament final, the CSUF men’s basketball team will continue their season after making the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT), where they’ll play host to Cal State Bakersfield tonight in at Titan Gym.
The opening round game against the Roadrunners will be the Riley Wallace Classic, named after the former Hawai’i head basketball coach who stood was was at the helm of the Rainbow Warriors for over 20 years. Current CSUF Director of Athletics Jim Donovan serves as the committee chairman of the tournament.
The tournament comes after the Titans finished the regular season at 16-17 and finished third in the Big West with a 10-6 conference record.
This will mark the ninth postseason appearance for CSUF and will be the third straight year the Titans will play in a postseason tournament after playing in the CIT in 2017 and the NCAA Tournament last year.
Dedrique Taylor, CSUF head coach, credits the extended seasons to his senior duo of Kyle Allman Jr. and Khalil Ahmad.
“We’ve been to the postseason three years in a row in large part because of them and what they’ve done,” Taylor said. “I think its a credit to them and says a tremendous amount about what their legacy will be.”
Ahmad finished the year leading the team in points with 18.2 points per game, which ranked fourth in the Big West. Allman Jr. was fifth with 17.7 points per game.
Ahmad and Allman Jr. both were named to the Big West all-tournament team this past weekend, as Ahmad finished tournament averaging 22 points per game while Allman Jr. averaged 16.
— Danny Woo (@dannywoo15) March 17, 2019
Titan Gym has been friendly to CSUF, as they are 10-3 when playing at home.
CSUB comes into the game with a 16-15 record, finishing the year fifth in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) at 7-9. The Roadrunners are currently on a six-game losing streak, with their most recent loss in the first round of the WAC Tournament to UT Rio Grande Valley.
Bakersfield is led in scoring by sophomore guard Jarkel Joiner, whose 16.1 points per game ranks second in the WAC.
“They rely on him to score, but they also have a number of other guys that are capable of scoring,” Taylor said. “We hang our hat on being able to defend people and particularly defend the 3-point line.”
While the Titans were short of making their second straight NCAA Tournament experience, Taylor believes people shouldn’t discredit the CIT.
“I think its ignorance at its highest level,” Taylor said.“They don’t understand the level of sacrifice that’s made, they don’t understand what it means to a group of guys that come from a Fullerton program.”
Despite not being able to win the program’s first national title, Taylor believes winning any type of postseason tournament would be big for his program.
“We’ve never achieved anything here. There’s no tradition,” Taylor said. “To be able to finish year six hoisting a postseason trophy, I think it’s the ultimate statement and ultimate testament to what this group is about, and what this program is capable of.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Titan Gym and all CSUF students will receive free entry to the game.