Feb. 3, 2007
Riverside, Calif. - Larry Cunningham exploded for a career-high 34 points - all in the second half -- and UC Riverside won its first Big West Conference game of the season with an 82-76 upset victory over Cal State Fullerton.
Frank Robinson scored 18 points to lead Fullerton, which made only 2 of 16 3-point field goals and fell to 16-5 and 6-3. It was the second win in a row for UCR, now 5-17 and 1-7 in the Big West, and avenged a 98-58 loss at Fullerton on Jan. 13.
Cunningham made 13 of 19 field goals and 8 of 9 free throws after going 0-for-1 from the floor and playing only 3 minutes in the first half due to two quick fouls.
Guard Dedrick Bates came off the bench for 12 points and a team-high 9 rebounds for the Highlanders, who shot 61 percent from the floor in the second half. Chris Johnson had 12 points including key back-to-back 3-pointers.
"I didn't feel good about this game all week," said CSF Head Coach Bob Burton. "Our defense was poor and our offensive execution in the first half was poor. When you're on the road, you've got to be solid at both ends and we weren't on either.
"They (UCR) played great. They had a chance to re-charge and looked like a different team (than Jan. 13). We looked like a tired team.
"We forgot what we have to do to win games -- we didn't do the little things like blocking out and geting loose balls. UCR played more together, harder and was tougher."
A pivotal play occured with 6:42 to play. Brown scored as he was being fouled on a lob dunk pass from Marcus Crenshaw to tie the game at 61 but was charged with a technical foul for taunting. Justin Bell made a free throw and Brown missed his to leave it 62-61 UCR and the Highlanders led the rest of the way.
A 12-2 UCR surge made it 73-63 with 3:27 remaining. Fullerton got as close as 79-76 when Crenshaw hit a trey with 23 seconds left, but Cunningham sank two free throws and the Titans missed two more treys.
The Titans got off to a miserable start, hitting only 1 of their first 12 shots and committing five turnovers in the first seven minutes to fall behind, 14-2. They used a 10-0 run to get close at 20-19 but could never get over the hump. Several times they had a chance to tie or take the lead but couldn't convert, often missing more than one shot per possession. Their previous lowest scoring first half of the season was 27 points at Texas-San Antonio on Nov. 22, when three starters were missing.
The Titans got their first lead of the game at 28-27 when Cutley got open inside the UCR zone and they eventually pulled out to leads as large as 6 points, the last at 57-51. But Johnson had back-to-back treys and Cunningham turned a turnover into a layup and a 59-57 lead.
Next week the Titans travel to Pacific on Thursday and Cal State Northridge on Saturday while the Highlanders will reverse the trip.