DETROIT- The 15th seeded Cal State Fullerton Titans gave second-seeded Purdue all it could handle, as it flirted with one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history through one half of play, but in the end the Boilermakers topped the Titans 74-48 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, Friday afternoon inside Little Caesars Arena.
For Fullerton (20-12), the loss puts an end to one of the best seasons in program history, as the Titans racked up 20 wins for just the seventh time in school history and made their third trip to the Big Dance. Fullerton has qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2018, 2008 and 1978. The 20 victories were the most since the Titans captured 21 wins during the 2011-12 campaign.
Kyle Allman was phenomenal in his NCAA Tournament debut, as he led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. He also grabbed a team-high equaling five boards and dished out two assists.
Allman scored 20+ points 17 times this season, including in seven of the last nine games to end the year. The Brooklyn native scored in double figures in 28 of 32 games in 2017-18.
Jackson Rowe also recorded double-figure points, as he went an efficient 3-of-5 from the field. Arkim Robertson also chipped in with a team-high tying five boards. Jamal Smith recorded a team-best two blocks.
The Titans' first half defense was stifling, as they held the Boilermakers to just 33 percent shooting from the floor, as they converted on just 10-of-30 shots from the field. Despite Purdue's overwhelming size advantage, Fullerton only lost the points in the paint battle 24-18.
Fullerton and Purdue were never separated by more than 10 points in the first half, while the Titans kept it within single digits most of the period. In fact, the Titans even grabbed a 12-11 lead with 10:20 remaining in the half.
The Titans put together a spirited effort, as Allman opened the scoring with a triple from the top of the key to make it a 6-3 deficit with 17:34 left in the opening half.
From that point, Fullerton kept the contest within four points or less all the way through the 9:02 mark of the first half. After the Titans grabbed their lead at the 10:20 mark, Purdue launched a 9-0 run to make it a 20-12 deficit with 6:09 remaining in the half.
However, as the Titans had done all season long, they failed to give in and they put together an 8-2 run themselves to make it just a 22-20 deficit with 3:09 remaining thanks to multiple buckets by Kyle Allman and Jackson Rowe.
Purdue went into halftime with a 30-21 advantage with the Titans very much in the game.
Unfortunately for Fullerton, Purdue opened the second half scoring and never looked back. The Boilermakers improved their shooting percentage to 44 percent in the period and held a double-digit lead throughout.
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