FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team used a balanced offense and stout defense to win its 12th straight home opener with a 67-55 victory over San Diego.
The Titans (2-1) had four scorers reach double-figures as they were led by redshirt senior guard Malcolm Brooks' 16 points which tied his career-high. Brooks led the quartet of Tre' Coggins (12 points), Khalil Ahmad (11 points) and Lionheart Leslie (10 points) as Fullerton has had at least three players reach double-figures in all three of its games thus far.
In addition to the offensive attack, Fullerton also received a strong showing from its defense as San Diego (0-3) was held to just 37.5-percent shooting from the field and 25-percent shooting from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Jamar Akoh led the Titans with seven rebounds in the game, five of which were defensive boards.
Coggins played hard on both ends of the court as he led the squad with four steals, while adding three rebounds and one block. The Titans' stout defensive play led to 19 Torero turnovers which turned into 20 points for Fullerton.
The Titans shot 46-percent from the floor in the game and made 50-percent of their three-point attempts. Fullerton also got a lot of offense from its bench with 31 points coming from non-starters.
San Diego was led by Marcus Harris and Jito Kok who posted 14 and 12 points, respectively. The duo each posted five rebounds, while Kok added three blocks and one steal. However, Kok also committed seven turnovers in the game.
Cal State Fullerton got off to a quick start as Brooks started the game with a three pointer and two made free throws to give the Titans an early 5-0 lead. The Toreros fought back and took their first lead of the game at 14:11 after Harris completed the three-point play to put San Diego up 10-8, but the Titans would surge back and regain the lead on a three from Coggins (20-19) with under nine minutes to play.
The Titans made four 3-pointers and shot 40-percent from beyond the arc in the first half as they took their largest lead of the frame on a jumper from Leslie which made it a nine-point game (30-21) with just 3:40 remaining. The Toreros mounted a comeback and came within two (30-28) at halftime after scoring seven straight points, but the buzzer ended their run.
Despite a pair of early ties in the second half, Fullerton never relinquished its lead. The Titans shot 46.4-percent from the field in the frame and made 3-of-4 three-pointers, while the Toreros were 7-of-22 from the field for a 31.8-shooting percentage. CSF's defense did a good job guarding the ball beyond the arc as well as San Diego was limited to just three 3-pointers on 13 attempts (23.1-percent).
Fullerton led by as many as 17 in the second half as the Titans jumped out in front 63-46 on a three-point basket from Ahmad to move the freshman into double-figures for the second time in three games. The Titans held a comfortable lead for the final minutes of the game and went on to win, 67-55.
Cal State Fullerton will hit the court again on Tuesday, Nov. 24, when the it travels to Cedar City, Utah to take on the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah at 6 p.m. (PT).