Anaheim, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton men's basketball came back to beat UC Santa Barbara 64-58 in the Big West Tournament to earn a trip to the final for the second straight year. The Titans trailed by 10 with 11:38 but held the Gauchos to zero made field goals in the final 7:07 of the game. Fullerton will face the UC Irvine Anteaters, the reigning Big West Champions, on Saturday at 9 p.m. PT on ESPN2 with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line. The Titans beat the Anteaters in the 2018 Big West Tournament Final.
Cal State Fullerton (16-16, 10-6) led for just 2:32 of the 40 minutes during Friday's game but they managed to pull out the victory thanks to outstanding defense down the stretch, spearheaded by redshirt junior guard Jamal Smith who played 18 minutes off the bench had a team-high +12 plus/minus. The Titans closed the final 11 minutes of the game on a 29-13 run. Senior guard Khalil Ahmad once again delivered on the offensive end with 28 points on 9-14 shooting (7-8 FTA) to go with six rebounds and a block in 39 minutes.
Senior guard Kyle Allman Jr. struggled a bit offensively but finished with 12 points (5-14 FGA) four rebounds and two key blocked shots down the stretch. Another spark off the bench was junior forward Davon Clare, who also had a +12 plus/minus and chipped in eight points, six rebounds and the only two assists the team distributed all night, a season-low for the squad.
The Titans shot 46% (25-54) from the field, 25% (3-12) from distance and 65% (11-17) from the charity stripe. Most of the stats were fairly even except for points in the paint where the Titans had 40 and the Gauchos had just 22.
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