A 14-point lead in the second half was not safe for Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball on Saturday night as UC Santa Barbara came back to complete the two-game sweep and beat the Titans, 65-61.
With a little over 15 minutes left in the game, the Titans led 41-27 after a hot start in the second half. That lead soon disappeared as the Gauchos scored 12-straight points in nearly five minutes, with guard Devearl Ramsey’s 3-point shot capping off a 15-2 run to tie the game at 46 points with under nine minutes left.
The score stayed close for the remainder of the game; even though UCSB shot a poor 15.8% in 3-pointers, Ramsey hit another 3-pointer with 57 seconds left to give the Gauchos a 4-point lead. Down by two points, guard Dante Maddox Jr. missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer with seconds left. UCSB then shot two free throws with less than a second left to seal the victory.
The loss put CSUF at 1-2 on the season and 0-2 in the Big West, while Santa Barbara is now 6-3 and 2-2 in the Big West.
UCSB senior guard JaQuori McLaughlin proved to be clutch with his double-double for the Gauchos. Of his 19 points, 14 came in the second half and he finished with 10 assists and 5 steals. Dante Maddox Jr. was the leading scorer for the Titans with 19 points — 12 of them from 3-pointers.
Despite shooting 57.1% in 3-pointers and setting a school record making all 19 free throw attempts, turnovers played a huge factor in Fullerton’s loss. The Titans gave up the ball 22 times, while the Gauchos turned it over eight times; UCSB had 14 steals while Fullerton only had three.
Despite missing their first five shots to start the game, the Titans were able to keep the game close, as the Gauchos had a scoring drought that lasted four minutes and only one made field goal in the final five minutes of the first half.
In the first half, the Titans gave up the ball 14 times, with CSUF shooting from the field at 35% in the first half and UCSB at 32.4%.
However, the Gauchos struggled from the 3-point line, as they missed all 10 of their attempts in the half, while the Titans went 5-for-7 beyond the arc with all of the made shots coming from Tray Maddox Jr. and Dante Maddox Jr. The Titans were also a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line, while UCSB was 5 for 7.
Beginning with a Dante Maddox Jr. made 3-pointer right before halftime, CSUF carried the momentum with a 12-0 run that lasted nearly five minutes and gave the Titans their largest lead of the game.
After getting the lead back to five with a little over six minutes left, CSUF went cold as the Titans ended the game 1-for-7 from the field.
CSUF will return to Titan Gym for its conference home opener when the Titans take on Long Beach State on Friday and Saturday, with both games set to begin at 5 p.m.