Jan. 29, 2009
Long Beach, Calif. - Josh Akognon scored 31 points including a go-ahead fallaway jumper with less than 4 seconds to play Thursday night to lead Cal State Fullerton to a 61-60 Big West Conference victory at Long Beach State.
The win before a raucous full house of 4,263 fans evened Fullerton's record at 10-10 overall and 4-4 in the Big West. First-place Long Beach State got 15 points from Stephan Gilling including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 19 seconds to play but fell to 10-9 and 5-2 after blowing a 13-point lead.
Ray Miller joined Akognon in double figures with 10 points and Marcio Lassiter had 9 including three key buckets down the stretch. Donovan Morris was the only other 49er in double figures with 10 points.
"I knew it was good when it went through the basket," Akognon said of his game-winning shot. "My first move was to go - to be strong and quick. When I saw there was no double team, I knew the fallaway would be there.
"We didn't crumble in front of a crowd like this and came back from 13 down. Now we have to carry it over to Saturday night with Riverside and forget about this one."
"We settled down and took better shots in the second half," said Head Coach Bob Burton after the Titans' fourth road win in a row. "The real difference was our defense. We stepped it up. We got down by 13 (37-24 two minutes into the second half) and defense brought us back.
"The last play we had something set up, but if it wasn't there we were supposed to get the ball to Josh. Both teams played really well but we had the ball at the end.
"Coach (Dan) Monson and I were excited to see the crowd in here so excited. Even if we had lost, we would have felt the same way.
"Now I'm nervous about playing at home. We haven't played well there and we can't figure it out."
Akognon had given Fullerton a 59-57 lead with a driving bank shot with 29 seconds left. Gilling's 3-pointer from the corner on an out of bounds play with 21 seconds left put Long Beach ahead, 60-59.
Akognon made 8 of 12 shots in the second half on his way to 23 points and the eighth 30-point game of his career. In the first half he made only 3 of 11 shots for 8 points.
Fullerton missed its first 11 3-pointers before Chris Rhymes connected at 8:07 of the first half. The Titans finished 6 of 22. Overall, Fullerton shot 29 percent in the first half and 45 percent in the second half.
Fullerton played catch up all night. Lassiter brought the Titans within a point at 50-49 with 10:26 to play but the Titans missed three opportunities to take the lead. Lassiter got the Titans even at 55-55 on a breakaway layup at 4:30. Neither team scored again until Lassiter finally put the Titans ahead, 57-55, when he made a spinning layup at the front end of another break at 1:42. Long Beach tied it up at 57 at 1:06 when Morris hit a fallaway jumper.
The Titans' last first-half lead was at 6-4 with Miller doing all of the scoring. The 49ers gradually pulled away and took an 8-point halftime lead into the locker room when Morris scored his first two buckets of the game to close out the period.
Long Beach scored the first 5 points of the second half to open a 37-24 advantage but Akognon scored the Titans' first 9 points of the half and closed the gap to 39-33. No other Titan made a field goal until Miller scored at 14:10.
Fullerton returns home Saturday night to host UC Riverside at 6 p.m.