FULLERTON, Calif. – After playing its first two games on the road, Cal State Fullerton returned to Titan Gym and produced a solid shooting performance in an 86-73 win over Santa Clara on Saturday afternoon.
The Titans, now 2-1 under first-year head coach Dedrique Taylor, shot 53.8 percent (35-of-65) from the floor, and were led by junior guard Alex Harris for the second time this season as he knocked down three 3-pointers en route to a 19-point performance. Senior guard Michael Williams added 15 points, and led the Titans with five assists while finding his way to six rebounds.
Cal State Fullerton led by six at halftime and opened the second period on a 9-0 run to take a 49-34 advantage which was highlighted by Marquis Horne's four-point play at the 18:53 mark.
Horne finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting while adding seven rebounds and two steals.
Fullerton's climb continued as Williams scored six straight points to put the Titans ahead 63-45 with 11:31 to play. The crowd was also treated to a Josh Gentry dunk served up by Harris at the 9:57 as the Titans led 67-49.
One more Titan run, 11-5, pushed Fullerton to its largest lead of the game, 78-54, with 7:40 to play.
Fullerton dealt Santa Clara (2-1) its first loss of the year, outscoring the Broncos, 48-28, in the paint.
Gentry was the final Titan to reach double figures pouring in 13 points.
Santa Clara was led by Brandon Clark's 23-point performance as the guard went to the free-throw line on 10 occasions, making eight of those attempts.
Jared Brownridge, who knocked down three 3-pointers in the game's first four minutes, finished the with 21 points.
Fullerton's defense forced 14 turnovers, but more importantly held Santa Clara to a .373 shooting percentage (25-of-67).
Fullerton held a 40-34 advantage at the half thanks to a large discrepancy in shooting percentage as the Titans made 52.9 percent (18-of-34) of their attempts compared to Santa Clara, which shot just 29.4 percent (10-of-34) from the floor.
The Titans also held a clear 28-10 advantage in the paint during the first 20 minutes as Fullerton was easily able to penetrate through the lane on several occasions.
Santa Clara held an early 12-4 lead, but the Titans quickly erased the gap with a 12-2 run. Fullerton pushed that advantage to 24-17 as Jared Brandon's athletic lay-up in the lane gave the Titans a seven-point edge with 8:27 to play.
The Titans were in possession of a 10-point lead, 40-30, with 1:09 left to play after Joe Boyd chased down a loose ball and made the pass to Gentry, who found his way directly to the hoop and converted the bucket despite being fouled as well as hitting the free throw.
Santa Clara was able to cut that lead to six after a Titan turnover led to Denzel Johnson making 2-of-3 attempts at the charity stripe.
Next on tap for Cal State Fullerton are two home games beginning at USC on Tuesday (8:05 p.m.) and at San Jose State on Saturday (12:30 p.m.)
Notes: Cal State Fullerton is now 1-1 all-time against Santa Clara…the Titans hold a record of 28-14 in home openers all-time, including 10 straight…Fullerton eclipsed 80 points for the second time in 2013-14…Fullerton recorded its second win by double digits.
Cal State Fullerton Head Coach Dedrique Taylor
It was an awesome win for our program to be able to come home and put our best foot forward and play as well as we played for the first 35 minutes of that game. It was a great opportunity for our fans to see what these young men have been working on and I though they executed the game plan well.
About defensive intensity
After the first three or four minutes I thought we got in our rhythm defensively. Our fans saw what the coaching staff gets to see every day, which is great energy and great effort while playing with discipline.
Michael Williams on his ability to drive the lane
My teammates were setting good screens allowing me to have great driving lanes in order for me to penetrate and get the rim. Great screens lead to huge gaps.