LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton had four double-figure scorers and senior center Kennedy Esume grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds, but the Titans were unable to overcome 18 turnovers and 26 fouls as Loyola Marymount went on to win the game 79-74.
LMU (1-0) secured the game in the final seconds after a foul by Cal State Fullerton (0-1) sent Marin Mornar to the line with the Titans down by three. Mornar made both free throws with just 7.2 seconds left in the game as Fullerton dropped the season opener.
Despite the loss, Cal State Fullerton had plenty of highlights in the contest as Esume was just one rebound shy of hitting the 20-mark plateau – a feat that has not been accomplished by a Titan in three years. Esume finished the game with 19 boards, six points and a pair of assists.
Malcolm Brooks led the Titans offensively with 16 points as he was 7-for-11 from the field. Brooks set the tone for Khalil Ahmad, Tre' Coggins, and Lanerryl Johnson who added 12, 12 and 10 points, respectively. Ahmad made his collegiate debut and finished with three boards and one assist to go along with his double-figure performance.
The Lions' Adom Jacko poured in 22 points as he led the LMU offense, which also had four double-figure scorers in Brandon Brown (14 points), Steven Haney (13 points) and Mornar (10 points).
The game was a hard-fought affair as the two teams traded leads seven times and battled through three ties – all which came in the first half. Cal State Fullerton owned the edge in shooting as the Titans out-shot the Lions 47.4-percent to 34.7-percent in the game. CSF also led in three-point shooting (37.5-percent to 25-percent), rebounding (42-41) and assists (18-13).
The difference, however, was made when LMU capitalized on Fullerton's turnovers scoring 17 points off of turnovers.
In the first half, Cal State Fullerton shot 40.0-percent from the field as the Titans connected on 10-of-25, while the defense held the Lions to 35.1-percent shooting. The Titans also held the edge on rebounds 23-19 and three-pointers (42.9-percent to LMU's 31.3-percent). However, 12 turnovers made the difference as the Lions scored 10 points off of turnovers and knocked down seven second-chance points.
The Titans led by as many as five (25-20) in the first half, but a scoring drought in the final eight minutes of the frame cost them the lead. Fullerton did not score a field goal for the final 8:32 of the half as they went into the locker room trailing by ten (41-31).
Cal State Fullerton came out shooting in the second half as the Titans cut the Lions' lead to four (41-37) and held LMU scoreless for nearly four minutes. CSF out-scored Loyola Marymount in the second half 43-38, and shot 53.1-percent from the floor. Despite Fullerton's efforts, LMU held the lead throughout the second frame and never relinquished it.
The Titans will return to action on Tuesday, Nov. 17 when they travel to Stockton, Calif., to take on Pacific at 7 p.m.