Titans’ second half surge not enough in first round of CIT

In Men's Basketball, Sports, Top Stories

The chapter of Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball, where the backcourt duo of Kyle Allman Jr. and Khalil Ahmad joined forces for the last four years, came to a close as the Titans lost to CSU Bakersfield, 66-58, in the opening round of the CollegeInsiders Tournament on Thursday night.

“You have to credit those guys for what they did for this program,” said head coach Dedrique Taylor. “I think the proof is in the pudding in terms of their productivity. They’ll go out on top.”

CSUF nearly overcame an 18-point deficit, but the Roadrunners held them off for the win.

The Titans looked to shake the cobwebs from the loss in the Big West Final, but got off to a slow start and missed their first five field goal attempts to begin the game.

Forward Jackson Rowe recorded CSUF’s first field goal of the night on a jump shot with just under seven minutes into the contest.

Although the Roadrunners struggled to make shots midway into the first half, forward Taze Moore made a 3-pointer to put Bakersfield ahead 14-5.

The Titans could not respond and the Roadrunners established a 13-point lead on a 8-0 run.

CSUF momentarily stopped Bakersfield’s momentum by scoring on back-to-back layups.

However Bakersfield guard Jarkel Joiner scored five points during a 7-0 run to give the Roadrunners an 18-point cushion heading into halftime, 34-16.

Fullerton’s poor shooting was a large reason why it was trailing for much of the game, making only 15.8 percent of their shots in the first half.

Bakersfield was awarded for their aggressive play on the offensive end as they scored 12 points in the paint compared to CSUF’s four.

The script flipped in the second half as the Titans began the half with the hot hand.

CSUF went on a 16-0 run and trimmed the 18-point deficit to seven points as guard Khalil Ahmad knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers during that run. Ahmad scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half on 5-of-10 from the field.

“We just found our purpose and played with some energy and mixed up our defenses a little bit which ignited our guys,” Taylor said.

Although Allman Jr. did not score a field goal in the first half on five shot attempts, he went 4 for 9 from the field in the second half, and made two consecutive layups to knot the game at 53 with 2:33 left to play.

The second half turnaround was not enough for the Titans to win the game as Jarkel put the game out of reach by making four free throws to cap an 8-0 run by Bakersfield.

Bakersfield forward James Suber was named the MVP of the Riley Wallace Classic as he finished the game with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

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