GAME NOTES: A pair of teams down in the Big West Conference standings will square off at Titan Gym on Thursday night, as the Cal State Fullerton Titans play host to the UC Davis Aggies.
UCD is just 8-16 overall this season, which includes a dreadful 1-9 mark on the road. The Aggies are just 3-6 in the Big West and most recently dropped a tough 61-59 decision at home versus UC Irvine last Saturday, but they have been playing better in recent weeks, going 3-3 in their last six tilts.
Fullerton has lost three straight and six of its last seven games to dip to 7-15 overall, and at 2-6 in the league it sits alone in last place. The Titans fell on the wrong end of a 92-83 overtime bout at Cal State Northridge on Saturday, but now they return home, where they've gone a respectable 5-4 at Titan Gym.
The Aggies beat the Titans in Davis on Jan. 18, 69-61, although Fullerton still has a slight 11-10 advantage in the all-time series.
The Aggies held a lead as large as 10 in the second half of their latest matchup last weekend but saw that advantage slip away down the stretch, as they went scoreless in the final 2:49 and fell victim to a late game-winning bucket by UCI. They shot a mere 33.9 percent from the field but nearly pulled off the victory by scoring 16 points off of 16 UCI turnovers. Corey Hawkins paced the losing effort with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and 8-of-11 at the foul line. Brynton Lemar was the only other player in double figures with 11 points.
UCD usually boasts a solid offensive attack, shooting 44.8 percent from the field for 71.9 ppg, but those numbers aren't strong enough considering its field goal percentage defense (.482) and scoring defense (78.2 ppg) both rank among the nation's worst. Its poor rebounding margin (-6.6) has also held it back. Hawkins pours in a team-best 18.3 ppg, while also swiping 1.4 spg. Ryan Sypkens nets 12.1 ppg and his 77 3-pointers ranks in the top-15 nationally.
The Titans held a lead late in intermission before CSUN tied the game on a 3- pointer with just four seconds to play, and they were outmatched in the extra session and eventually fell by the nine-point final. They shot 42.1 percent from the floor on the evening, including an impressive 12-of-26 from beyond the arc, but their 31 personal fouls allowed CSUN to knock down a whopping 40- of-47 from the free-throw line. Alex Harris did all he could to lift his team to victory with a career-high 27 points on 7-of-11 from 3-point range. Michael Williams poured in 20 points, while Steve McClellan made his mark in the paint with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
On the season, Fullerton has not performed well on either side of the court, shooting just 42.2 percent from the field for 66.5 ppg while allowing 71.0 ppg on 44.8 percent shooting. Williams scores a team-high 16.5 ppg, with Harris (14.4 ppg) right on his heels despite shooting a lackluster 38 percent from the field.
Although UCD has performed better than Fullerton of late, the playing field will be evened at Titan Gym, especially considering the Aggies' road woes. It might not be pretty, but figure for the Titans to snap their slide.
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