Cal State Fullerton Falls to UC Irvine, 92-65
FULLERTON, Calif. -- UC Irvine's Chris McNealy finished with a game-high 21 points off the bench to lead four Anteaters in double figures and the visitors shot just under 57 percent from the floor Thursday night, lifting them to a 92-65 victory over host Cal State Fullerton at Titan Gym.
The loss ended the Titans' three-game winning streak, dropping them to 10-7 overall and 3-2 in Big West Conference play. Irvine won its third-straight with the victory, improving to 10-9 overall and 4-2 in league play.
Senior Kwame Vaughn led Fullerton with 15 points to pace four Titans in double figures, but Fullerton could never get on track throughout the night, shooting a season-low 38 percent and scoring a season-low 65 points while suffering its worst defeat since a 27-point loss (81-54) at USC on Nov. 24, 2010.
Nothing fell for the Titans in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 31 percent in the first half while Irvine seemingly couldn't miss, shooting just under 52 percent in the first period en route to a 17-point halftime lead. The Anteaters outscored Fullerton, 39-21, over the final 18 minutes of the half after trailing by a point, 4-3, and put the Titans in a hole at the break for only the second time this season.
UCI led by as many as 23 points in the first period, taking the lead for good on a layup by Daman Starring, who finished with 16 points and six assists, and used a 15-2 run to build a 14-point advantage. Fullerton never got closer than 11 points with 8:20 to play as another 14-2 burst by the Anteaters gave them their largest lead of the half, 38-15, with 3:05 to play.
The Titans scored the first three points of the second half to close the gap to 14 points just under a minute into the period, but a 10-2 run by UCI rebuilt the lead back to 22 points and the Anteaters never looked back. Cal State Fullerton got the deficit back under 20 points just one from that point on after a three-pointer by D.J. Seeley, but Irvine's lead grew to as many as 27 points on a three-point play by Adam Folker with 8"04 to play.
McNealy added five rebounds and six assists in the win while Will Davis II finished with 11 points, a game-high nine rebounds, and six blocked shots inside. Michael Wilder chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds for the Anteaters, who held a 41-25 advantage on the boards and shot 12-for-27 (.444) from three-point range for the game.
Fullerton finishes the week on Saturday (Jan. 19) at 6:05 p.m., welcoming Long Beach State to Titan Gym. The 49ers posted a 91-82 overtime win over UC Riverside on Thursday to improve to 9-8 overall and 5-1 in league play.
GAME NOTES: Cal State Fullerton's 27-point loss on Thursday vs. UC Irvine was one more than in their previous six losses combined this season (26)... the 65 points were a season-low, besting its previous low of 66 points in a 13-point win over Idaho State on Dec. 13... the loss was the worst at home since suffering a 70-43 defeat to San Francisco on Nov. 19, 2001... Thursday was the worst Big West loss for the Titans since a 77-44 loss at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 31, 2004... senior Kwame Vaughn reached double figures for the 17th consecutive game this season with his 15 points, extending a streak of 21 games dating back to last season... the loss snapped a five-game winning streak in doubleheaders.