Jan. 18, 2007
Long Beach, Calif. - Aaron Nixon scored 27 points and Kejuan Johnson added 20 Thursday night to lead Long Beach State to a 95-85 victory that knocked Cal State Fullerton out of first place in the Big West Conference.
The 49ers improved to 12-5 overall and 3-1 in the Big West after winning their seventh home game in seven tries.
Bobby Brown had 28 points and Scott Cutley (23 points and 10 rebounds) and Justin Burns (14 and 10) had double-doubles for the Titans, who fell to 13-4 and 4-2 in losing their fourth road game in eight such outings.
Long Beach State hit 11 of 21 shots from behind the 3-point line including 7 of 11 in a 56-point second half to hold off the Titans, who led for only a few seconds of the game. Fullerton made only 6 of 23 from behind the arc and Brown made only 9 of 24 shots overall as the Titans shot 42 percent from the floor.
Early foul trouble plagued the Titans with Cutley getting two in the first 2:38 while trying to defend Nixon. Cutley got a third in the first half but no more. Burns had two first-half fouls and so did Frank Robinson, who tried guarding Nixon and finally fouled out in the closing minutes.
"There were a lot of big plays in this game and all were made by them," said Fullerton Coach Bob Burton. "Everytime we were right there, someone would hit a three.
"Going into the game we thought we had to stop Nixon and Johnson and we didnt' do that. Nixon was just terrific. He's hard to guard. He can shoot it and he's so strong.
"Our worst nightmare was realized when Cutley got those two quick fouls. We thought he could guard him but we had to take him off him because we need him on the floor.
"Their 3-point shooting was really the difference at the end of the game."
Long Beach State jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never trailed in the first half until the 1:57 mark when Burns hit a jumper to make it 33-32, Fullerton. But Kevin Hosuton hit a trey 19 seconds later and Nixon beat the halftime buzzer with another one for a 39-35 lead.
An early 10-0 run gave Long Beach a double-digit lead that grew to as many as 14 points at 55-41 with 14:51 remaining. But Fullerton crept back and used a succession of free throws to get close and finally take a 70-69 lead at 7:36 when Brown made a pair.
But Houston hit a pair of free throws and a jumper in 34 seconds and Long Beach State was back in the lead for good, stretching it to as many as 12 points in the final minute. Fullerton got within three at 80-77 on a Brown 3-pointer at 4:33 but Johnson answered with a 4-point play 24 seconds later.
Brown's 3-pointer moved him past Richard Morton into the No. 2 spot on the Titans' career scoring list and he ended the night with 1,712. Leon Wood is No. 1 with 1,876 points in 3 seasons.
Fullerton must regroup and play Orange County rival UC Irvine Saturday at the Bren Center. UCI is 6-1 at home after an easy win over UC Riverside on Thursday night.