Cal State Fullerton bounces back for series split with CSUN

A night after being scolded by Coach Dedrique Taylor for a lack of effort, the Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team bounced back on Sunday with a complete-game victory over Cal State Northridge, 85-77, at Titan Gym.

The Titans lost the opener of the two-game Big West Conference series on Saturday night despite CSUN being without its two leading scorers, and Taylor lamented his team’s lack of intensity.

“They responded the right way and were really scrappy against a good team,” Taylor said following Sunday’s win. “We didn’t really talk about offense or defense before the game, just doing what we do in practice and playing hard.”

Sunday’s rematch was close throughout, but the Titans finally took control with a late run. Leading 68-67 with 4:48 left, they outscored the Matadors 13-6, Vincent Lee scoring seven points and Dante Maddox Jr. and Tory San Antonio hitting 3-pointers. That gave the Titans (3-4 overall, 2-4 Big West) an eight-point lead with 1:48 left and the Matadors couldn’t get closer than six points the rest of the way.

Lee led the team with a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds. Lance Spivey added 13 points off the bench, Maddox had 11 off the bench and San Antonio had 10.

“We did a good of finding Vincent inside,” Taylor said of the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward. “I think we can score enough, but we have to buy in to playing the right way. We know what Vincent can do. We have enough guys who can shoot and score inside, we just have to have more of an effort to playing hard.”

The Matadors (5-4, 1-1) were again without TJ Starks (18.1 ppg) and Lance Coleman (15.7 ppg), and the Titans put a wall around guard Brendan Harrick, who made seven 3-pointers on Saturday. Miles Brookins (6.3 ppg) also missed the game for CSUN.

Darius Brown scored 14 points with six rebounds and seven assists for CSUN. Vante Hendrix scored 14 and Atin Wright had 22 points off the bench.

“We played really hard but I think we’ve got to get a little smarter at times,” CSUN coach Mark Gottfried said. “We had some critical errors but our effort was there. We had some guys out and people stepped up. Atin stepped in there and had a phenomenal game, George (Nwogu) got a few minutes – he hadn’t played a whole lot.

“When Festus (Ndumanya) got in foul trouble that hurt us some. We’re still learning, we have to get better defensively, we have to get a little better at executing our offense and getting the right shot. There’s no way I could fault our effort, we just came up a little bit short.”

UP NEXT

Cal State Fullerton is scheduled to host Hawaii on Friday and Saturday, with both games at 3 p.m.

CSUN is scheduled to host UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday, with both games at 4 p.m.

.@vincemikelee on the team win and his individual performance. #TusksUp pic.twitter.com/zwhcfIPKEA

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) January 18, 2021

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USC thwarts UC Riverside’s upset bid in OT

Having lost several scheduled games to COVID-19 restrictions, USC booked a replacement game against UC Riverside for Tuesday night at the Galen Center, a mid-week game sandwiched between Pac-12 opponents.

The Trojans got a little more than they likely expected from the Highlanders and needed a big overtime period from Drew Peterson to complement nice efforts from brothers Evan and Isaiah Mobley and close out a 67-62 victory.

UCR used a 16-0 run in the first half to open a five-point lead at halftime and the Big West Conference visitors had a chance to win the game in regulation before 7-foot freshman Evan Mobley blocked Zyan Pullin’s shot at the buzzer. It was one of six blocks for Mobley, who boasts a 7-5 wingspan.

Evan Mobley’s dunk with 4:05 left in the extra session gave the Trojans (9-2) the lead for good but they never created much distance from the Highlanders (4-3). USC had a one-point lead when Peterson scored three-point plays on back-to-back possessions, a jumper and a free throw followed by an inside basket and free throw that extended the margin to 61-56 with 2:35 left.

Dominick Pickett came back with a 3-pointer for UCR 19 seconds later, but Evan Mobley sank a pair of free throws, Peterson hit a jumper and the Trojans had enough room to hold on.

Evan Mobley scored 20 points (on 8-for-12 shooting) and had 11 rebounds to go with his defensive contributions, and Isaiah Mobley finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Trojans. Peterson had 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Tahj Eaddy added 10 points, four rebounds and two steals.

UCR had five players score in double digits: Pickett (16), Cameron Flynn (12) and Jock Perry, Pullin and Arinze Chidom 10 each.

“UC Riverside played well defensively, and we had a slow start that gave them some confidence,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “It was a good win considering we were 3 for 21 from the 3-point line.

“We’ve had trouble there recently. I think we’re 6 for 43 the last few games, and a lot of those shots were wide open. We weren’t forcing anything; we just didn’t make many.”

In overtime, the Trojans used their height advantage to post up the 6-8 Peterson for good looks.

“We’re happy to get a win,” Peterson said. “There are no free wins these days. Every win you get is gritty.”

Especially when the schedule is in a constant state of flux. That has been a concern for most Division I teams. The Trojans booked the game between conference games, which was a challenge considering the unexpected depth of the Pac-12 this season. Tuseday’s game was the first of six scheduled during a 12-day period.

“UC Riverside was a tough and local team and it was a cram session for us to be ready,” Enfield said.

“They kind of dared us to take outside shots, and were forcing us to the left side, which we didn’t expect,” Isaiah Mobley said. “We just had to start executing the way we know how. I really think this is a championship team, and winning games like this shows what we can do.”

USC led 14-9 when UCR went on its 16-0 run, Flynn hitting three 3-pointers and Wil Tattersall capping the run with one of his own with 7:56 left before halftime.

UCR led 32-27 at halftime. USC’s 52-47 lead in the second half with 3:10 left was the largest lead for either team prior to overtime.

UCR outscored USC 36-9 from beyond the arc but was just 2 for 9 from the free-throw line compared to the Trojans’ 16-for-22 mark. Both teams shot below 40 percent from the field. USC outrebounded UCR, 47-37.

WHO TO BELIEVE?

USC entered the game 5-0 all-time against UC Riverside, winning the last meeting, 70-26, on Dec. 15, 2012. USC was forced to vacate its 2008 victory against the Highlanders due to NCAA penalties. But that’s according to the Trojans’ media guide.

The Highlanders’ media guide gives UC Riverside credit for wins against USC on Feb. 3, 1967 and Nov. 30, 1979 and puts the rivalry at 6-2 in favor of the Trojans.

New services contributed to this story.

UP NEXT

UC Riverside faces Cal Poly on the road for back-to-back Big West games on Friday and Saturday.

USC resumes Pac-12 play when it welcomes Washington to town on Thursday.

The Trojans came back from 11 points down to get the W.

Catch all the highlights from tonight’s game! ⤵pic.twitter.com/2usKYfZVLI

— USC Men’s Basketball (@USC_Hoops) January 13, 2021

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Cal State Fullerton can’t match UCSB’s balance in Big West opener

SANTA BARBARA — Junior guard Trey Maddox Jr. had a career-high 27 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough for Cal State Fullerton as UC Santa Barbara used a balanced attack and pulled away in the second half to defeat the Titans, 81-63, in a Big West Conference game on Friday night at the Thunderdome.

The Gauchos led by seven at halftime, then took control in the second half when Miles Norris punctuated a 13-2 run with a fast-break dunk that pushed the margin to 51-35 with 10:29 left. The Titans never got closer than 11 the rest of the way and the margin was extended to 21 in the final five minutes.

Maddox scored Fullerton’s first 10 points and finished 11 for 16 from the field, including a 5-for-8 mark from 3-point range, in 35 minutes. Sophomore Vincent Lee added 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting and grabbed four rebounds for the Titans (1-1 overall, 0-1 Big West), who were playing their first game since Dec. 13 because of a 14-day quarantine for COVID-19 test results. Senior Josh Hall had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Ajare Sanni led UCSB (5-3, 1-2) with 19 points (13 in the second half), four rebounds and five assists. He was 8 for 11 from the field, including 3 for 3 from 3-point range. JaQuori McLaughlin had 13 points and six assists, and Norris had 13 points and three blocked shots. Amadou Sow had 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting despite being limited to 17 minutes because of foul trouble. Robinson Idehen added seven points and nine rebounds.

Fullerton had 17 turnovers and just 10 assists. UCSB shot 53.1% overall, including 20 for 31 (64.5%) in the second half. The Gauchos, who dropped their first two Big West games at UC Irvine on Sunday and Monday, were an efficient 5 for 9 from 3-point range after halftime. UCSB had a season-high nine steals and just 12 turnovers to go with 22 assists.

The Titans and Gauchos play the second game of their two-game series on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Thunderdome. The game can be streamed on ESPN3.

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UC Irvine’s comeback bid falls short at LMU

LOS ANGELES — Collin Welp had 11 points and a career-high 19 rebounds but missed his attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds and UC Irvine lost to Loyola Marymount, 51-48, on Thursday night at LMU’s Gersten Pavilion.

Dameane Douglas had 18 points to lead LMU, which had to hold off the Anteaters down the stretch.

Douglas made a pair of free throws to stretch the Lions’ lead to 50-41 with 2:11 to play, but UCI’s Jeron Artest made a 3-pointer and Justin Hohn converted a layup to pull UCI to within 50-48 with 38 seconds left. LMU’s Eli Scott made one of two free-throw attempts with 10 seconds left to make it a 3-point game and set the scene for Welp to try to force overtime.

Scott had 11 points for LMU (4-3). Mattias Markusson had seven points, and Ivan Alipiev had seven rebounds.

Dawson Baker had 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting for UCI  (2-4), and Brad Greene had eight points, four rebounds and three blocked shots.

Neither team shot the ball well. UCI made just 35.6 percent (21 for 59) overall, including a 3-for-13 showing (23 percent) from 3-point range, while LMU was at 35.8 percent (19 for 53) overall and just 2 for 18 (11 percent) from beyond the arc.

LMU held a 40-37 advantage in rebounds and outscored UCI 30-22 in the paint and got to the free-throw line more frequently, going 11 for 19 there while UCI was just 3 for 6. UCI’s 48 points was its worst offensive output since a 2011 game against UC Davis.

A jump shot from Baker followed by a layup from Welp gave UCI a 29-22 lead early in the second half, but LMU used a 13-2 run to take a 35-31 lead with 11:15 left. The Lions stretched the margin to seven points with 4:57 left, before a Hohn 3-pointer got UCI within 45-41 with 4:41 left. LMU went ahead by nine on Douglas’ free throws with 2:11 left, before the Anteaters’ late surge.

“This game represented progress for us in the big picture and that is something we could focus on and take away from that,” said UCI coach Russell Turner, who remains frustrated with his team when it comes to giving up extra possessions off missed free throws and transition defense.

“I am angry with my team and our ability to get free-throw rebounds. I am angry with our lack of commitment to do that because I believe if we did that we could have won this game tonight. I am disappointed in our lack of running back on defense and getting back to defend. That is something that I want to drive home with our team and I need commitment from every guy to do that.”

UP NEXT

UCI hosts San Diego on Saturday at 4 p.m.

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UCLA holds off Marquette with poise down the stretch

  • UCLA guard Johnny Juzang fouls Marquette guard Koby McEwen during the second half of Friday night’s game at Pauley Pavilion. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA forward Jalen Hill, right, defends against Marquette guard Koby McEwen during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Marquette forward Theo John, right, looks for a pass around UCLA forward Jalen Hill during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA forward Jalen Hill (24) dunks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Marquette, Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Head coach Mike Cronin of the UCLA Bruins reacts to a play during the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Marquette forward Justin Lewis, center, goes up for a shot against UCLA guard Chris Smith, left, and UCLA guard David Singleton (34) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Chris Smith, left, is defended by Marquette forward Justin Lewis during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • of an NCAA college basketball game Marquette forward Jamal Cain, left, dunks against UCLA forward Jalen Hill during the first half Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. , right, shoots while defended by Marquette forward Theo John, front left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Marquette guard Greg Elliott (5) shoots against UCLA guard Jules Bernard (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Chris Smith (5) is defended by Marquette forward Theo John (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA coach Mick Cronin looks to the sideline during the first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Marquette on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Marquette forward Dawson Garcia, right, shoots against UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins and Theo John #4 of the Marquette Golden Eagles fight for the rebound during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • UCLA forward Jalen Hill, right, defends against Marquette guard Koby McEwen during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Marquette forward Justin Lewis, center, goes up for a shot against UCLA guard Chris Smith, left, and UCLA guard David Singleton (34) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Jules Bernard, left, is defended by Marquette forward Jamal Cain during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell celebrates a win over Marquette after an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) shoots next to Marquette forward Dawson Garcia (33) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Theo John #4 of the Marquette Golden Eagles blocks a shot by Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski stands near the sideline during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against UCLA on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Jules Bernard shoots over Marquette guard D.J. Carton (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell, right, is defended by Marquette guard Koby McEwen during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jamal Cain #23 of the Marquette Golden Eagles dunks the ball over Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jaylen Clark #0 of the UCLA Bruins and Koby McEwen #25 of the Marquette Golden Eagles fight for the ball during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jaime Jaquez Jr. #4 of the UCLA Bruins steals the ball from Theo John #4 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins dunks the ball over D.J. Carton #21 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Koby McEwen #25 of the Marquette Golden Eagles reacts to a play during the first half against the UCLA Bruins at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins brings the ball up court against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jaylen Clark #0 of the UCLA Bruins and Dawson Garcia #33 of the Marquette Golden Eagles fight for the ball during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: D.J. Carton #21 of the Marquette Golden Eagles shoots a three point basket defended by Cody Riley #2 of the UCLA Bruins during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket during the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Justin Lewis #2 of the Marquette Golden Eagles and Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins fight for the rebound during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: D.J. Carton #21 of the Marquette Golden Eagles and Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins fight for the rebound during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Justin Lewis #2 of the Marquette Golden Eagles and Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins fight for the rebound during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Dawson Garcia #33 of the Marquette Golden Eagles looks to pass the ball against Jaime Jaquez Jr. #4 of the UCLA Bruins during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jaime Jaquez Jr. #4 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after getting fouled with Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins during the second half against the Marquette Golden Eagles at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins defends the rebound against Greg Elliott #5 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins dunks the ball during the second half against the Marquette Golden Eagles at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Head coach Mike Cronin of the UCLA Bruins reacts to a play during the first half against the Marquette Golden Eagles at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against Koby McEwen #25 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: D.J. Carton #21 of the Marquette Golden Eagles shoots a three point basket defended by Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins during the second half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against Jamal Cain #23 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: A general view of the empty seats at UCLA Pauley Pavilion while Chris Smith #5 of the UCLA Bruins takes a free throw shot during the second half of the game against the Marquette Golden Eagles on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 11: Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins dunks the ball over D.J. Carton #21 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • UCLA guard Jules Bernard (1), forward Jalen Hill (24) and guard Chris Smith (5) celebrate a win over Marquette after an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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LOS ANGELES — UCLA’s shooting performance was a classic tale of hot and cold on Friday night. The Bruins endured separate stretches of five, six and seven consecutive misses. The stretches of six and seven were separated by one made shot.

When the shots weren’t falling, UCLA made up for it on defense, which anchored a 69-60 victory over Marquette at Pauley Pavilion despite a combined shooting performance of 3 for 20 from preseason All-American Chris Smith and sharpshooter Johnny Juzang.

“I’m proud of tonight’s game,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “It’s a game that reinforces what I coach because Chris (Smith) and Johnny (Juzang) going 3 for 20 won’t happen (again). We were still able to win the game.”

UCLA (5-1) held Marquette (4-2) to just six points in the final eight minutes of the game – part of a 14-3 run to finish the night. Three of UCLA’s four blocked shots came in the final five minutes. Two from Jalen Hill and one from Smith.

“Chris showed a lot of maturity tonight,” Cronin said of the team’s lone senior. “He had a big block, big rebounds and free throws to help us win the game.”

Jaime Jaquez Jr. led the Bruins with a career-high-tying 18 points and six rebounds. Jules Bernard, who came off the bench for the first time this season, added 15 points and seven rebounds. Juzang, the Kentucky transfer who started in his second game, finished with nine points (3 for 12 from the field) and Smith (0 for 8) scored four.

Bernard’s 15 points came on just seven shot attempts with no turnovers. He also added two steals.

“I’m a player who’s ready to play,” Bernard said. “Whether I start or come off the bench. I just played aggressive like I always do.”

“He’s become a very, very good player in front of our eyes,” Cronin said.

Juzang delivered a clutch jump shot with 2:12 left that extended UCLA’s lead to five points. If there was a time for UCLA to catch a hot shooting streak, it was at the end of the night. The Bruins converted on six of their last 10 field-goal attempts.

All of Smith’s free-throw attempts came in the final seven minutes, and he converted four of them, which helped to seal the game. It was all by design.

“We were struggling shooting,” Cronin said. “We wanted to get to the free-throw line late game, get Chris closer to the basket and get him to the free-throw line. It worked out for us.”

Marquette had won four of five coming in, including an upset of then-No. 4 Wisconsin. But the Eagles were held to just two field goals over the final seven minutes of their first road game. Marquette’s Dawson Garcia made a pair of free throws to tie the score for the last time at 56-all. Neither team ever led by double digits.

“We played a lot smarter the last eight minutes defensively,” Cronin said. “We got to the foul line and got a few key offensive rebounds.”

UCLA finished the night shooting 41% from the field, but Marquette’s 43% wasn’t much better. Marquette also had 18 turnovers to UCLA’s seven.

The Bruins fell behind by as many as seven in the first half after a Jamal Cain dunk made it 18-11. UCLA weathered an offensive drought that lasted more than three minutes, which included five consecutive empty possessions. David Singleton ended the shooting woes when he drained a corner 3-pointer.

Not only did Singleton’s 3 stop the drought, it sparked an offensive surge that saw the Bruins make nine of their next 11 field-goal attempts. Bernard made back-to-back shots, including a 3-pointer of his own before Jaquez Jr. thundered home an alley-oop in transition delivered from Tyger Campbell.

UCLA carried a 36-34 lead into halftime.

Friday night’s win is UCLA’s best of the season thus far, especially after it thumped mid-majors Seattle and San Diego. Its double-digit victory over Cal was expected and the triple-overtime victory over Pepperdine is looking more respectable after the Waves took down Cal themselves, handily.

Furthermore, the Bruins’ only loss – to San Diego State in the season opener – is hardly embarrassing after the unbeaten Aztecs took down Pac-12 contender Arizona State, 80-68, on Thursday night in Tempe.

“This was a big game for us. We knew (Marquette) had just knocked off Wisconsin,” Bernard said.

UP NEXT

UCLA hosts Long Beach State on Tuesday in a game that had been postponed last month.

Party in Pauley, Bruins win! 👏@jaquez_jr’s ties career-best 18 points as @UCLAMBB moves to 3-0 all-time against Marquette. pic.twitter.com/MYZ9txv5yA

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 12, 2020

“I knew we had struggled from the 3-point line, as far as our shooting was concerned. When I saw an opening, I just took it and knew that we were in the bonus so I was driving, trying to draw fouls.”

Jaime Jaquez Jr. (@jaquez_jr), speaking to the media after UCLA’s win pic.twitter.com/z3r0AZM8by

— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) December 12, 2020

“Jules Bernard, obviously, the MVP in tonight’s game. His defense on their best players, his toughness, his rebounding, his efficiency on offense … He’s becoming a very good player in front of our eyes.”

Coach Cronin, speaking via Zoom after UCLA’s win pic.twitter.com/1L7U9XoayZ

— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) December 12, 2020

Jalen Hill finishes off a 6-0 UCLA run with this alley oop from @tygercampbell15!

Bruins lead by six with just 5:05 left in regulation.

📺: @Pac12Network
🖥: https://t.co/ZzjQRYhgcz#GoBruins pic.twitter.com/dG2t2GRs25

— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) December 12, 2020

.@JohnnyJuzang hits a long jumper to make it a 65-60 game and force a Marquette timeout.

📺: @Pac12Network
🖥: https://t.co/ZzjQRYhgcz#GoBruins pic.twitter.com/W14yZku394

— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) December 12, 2020

.@jules__bernard is good with the left again and UCLA leads by four!

📺: @Pac12Network
🖥: https://t.co/ZzjQRYhgcz#GoBruins pic.twitter.com/AWaHI8Q5y0

— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) December 12, 2020

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Long Beach State can’t match LMU’s sizzling shooting in season opener

LOS ANGELES — Long Beach State finally played its season opener on Friday night, but Joe Quintana and Loyola Marymount used a strong shooting night to hand LBSU an 85-61 nonconference loss at Gersten Pavilion.

Quintana made six 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 20 points as LMU led by as many as 20 points in the first half and controlled the game throughout. The Lions were 15 for 38 from beyond the arc (39.5 percent), outscoring the visitors 45-12 from long distance. Nine of LMU’s 15 second-half baskets were 3-pointers.

LMU outrebounded Long Beach 44-31 and had 23 assists on 30 field goals, compared to just seven assists for the visitors, who shot 19 for 59 (32.2 percent) from the floor. LMU turned its rebounding dominance into a 20-2 advantage on second-chance points.

“Defensively, we were an absolute disaster,” said LBSU coach Dan Monson, whose team had its scheduled opener at UCLA on Monday night postponed by COVID-19 test results. “We gotta go back to the drawing board a little bit. Our awareness and our attention to detail on the defensive end’s gotta really improve.”

Ivan Alipiev had 16 points (four 3-pointers) and 10 rebounds for LMU (2-2). Dameane Douglas added 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Quentin Jackson Jr. had 11 points. Eli Scott contributed six points, 11 rebounds and a team-high six assists.

Michael Carter III paced Long Beach (0-1) with 19 points. Senior transfer Isaiah Washington added 17 points, three rebounds and three assists in his LBSU debut, and Chance Hunter had 13 points despite being limited to just 22 minutes because of foul trouble. Sophomore Romelle Mansel finished with a career-high nine rebounds for Long Beach, which had six players make their debuts.

Leading 9-7, the Lions used a 12-0 run to extend the lead to 21-7, then another 10-0 stretch to push the margin to 31-11. Long Beach trailed 42-28 at halftime but got within nine early in the second half when a Trever Irish jump-shot made it 52-43.

LBSU’s Joe Hampton had picked up his fourth foul in the early minutes of the half, and Hunter joined him with his fourth with 10:38 left. The Lions responded with another barrage from the perimeter, making a 3-pointer on four consecutive possessions to open a 69-49 lead with 7:40 left.

LMU committed 19 turnovers but also blocked seven Long Beach shots. The Lions’ 15 3-pointers were their most in a game since they made 16 in a 2017 game against Pepperdine.

UP NEXT

LBSU returns to the Walter Pyramid on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Seattle. It is the team’s first home game under COVID-19 protocols.

Loyola Marymount plays at UC Santa Barbara on Monday at 5 p.m.

Postgame comments from @CoachDMonson. #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/HScF3NZCqg

— LBSU Mens Basketball (@LBSUhoops) December 5, 2020

And this season gets started! pic.twitter.com/SzC9x4v8UI

— LBSU Mens Basketball (@LBSUhoops) December 5, 2020

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Dawson Baker, balanced UC Irvine overwhelm La Sierra

IRVINE — Dawson Baker made the most of the first start of his UC Irvine career.

The freshman guard had a career-high 21 points to lead five UCI players in double figures as the Anteaters routed La Sierra University of Riverside, 104-54, on Wednesday night at the Bren Events Center.

It was UCI’s second blowout of an overmatched NAIA opponent in less than a week. The Anteaters (2-2) set multiple program records in a 135-55 drubbing of Bethesda University of Anaheim on Saturday night.

“It was a great opportunity for me to start today,” said Baker, a Capistrano Valley High graduate who was 8 for 13 from the field and added five rebounds and four steals in 18 minutes. “I just tried to focus on my defensive play today and I think in turn that helped me with my offensive game.”

Junior forward Collin Welp had 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting, five rebounds and three steals for UCI against La Sierra. Senior center Brad Greene, sophomore guard Jeron Artest and sophomore forward JC Butler (nine rebounds) added 11 points each. Sophomore forward Austin Johnson added nine points and eight rebounds off the bench.

No UCI starter played more than 20 minutes, and all eight reserves played at least six, five of them logging 15 minutes or more.

UCI shot 55.9 percent (38 for 68) from the field and held La Sierra to just 39.6 percent (18 for 48) shooting overall and 29 percent (7-24) from 3-point range. The Anteaters held significant advantages in paint points (58-12), bench points (47-12) and points off turnovers (37-13). UCI also held an 18-6 advantage in steals.

An Artest 3-pointer gave UCI the lead for good with 10:18 left in the first half and started a 12-0 run that gave the Anteaters a 25-14 lead about two minutes later. Following a timeout, Baker fueled a 15-0 run with five points, two steals and an assist in a span of 2:44. The Anteaters scored the last nine points of the half, including five more from Baker and led 51-24 at the intermission.

Artest made a 3-pointer and another jumper to extend the margin to 58-26 in the opening minutes of the second half. La Sierra responded with a 9-4 surge of its own, but UCI followed with a 12-2 run that pushed the lead to 78-42 with 8:03 left.

Freshman guard DJ Davis hit a jumper with 1:13 left to give UCI 100 points for the second consecutive game.

Sophomore forward Uriel Lejtman had 15 points for the Golden Eagles (0-1). Junior forward Duane Darrett Jr. added 11 points, and junior guard Kamien Cedarlind had six rebounds.

UP NEXT

UCI plays at USC in a nonconference game on Tuesday (Dec. 8) at 7 p.m.

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Cal State Fullerton women avenge earlier losses to CSUN in Big West tourney opener

LONG BEACH — Cal State Fullerton junior Taylor Turney had to make a frantic phone call a few hours before Tuesday’s Big West Conference women’s basketball tournament game against Cal State Northridge.

She had to call her parents, who were driving into Southern California from their home outside of Las Vegas. The conference decided Tuesday afternoon to prohibit spectators at all of this week’s men’s and women’s tourney games because of the coronavirus threat.

“I heard at practice,” she said. “What? No fans? My family was driving in. They were in Barstow and turned around. My mom was crying, but I think she’ll be OK.”

No doubt. Turney had a brilliant effort in the sixth-seeded Titans’ 67-52 first-round win at the Walter Pyramid, scoring 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting with three 3-pointers and nine rebounds to advance the team to a Wednesday quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Hawaii.

It was the first tourney win for Fullerton since 2015, on the heels of the program’s first winning season since 1991. The Titans snuffed out a seventh-seeded CSUN team that had swept the two regular-season meetings, this time holding the Matadors to 31 percent shooting and forcing 13 turnovers.

Turney stepped up on a night when Big West Player of the Year Raina Perez had shooting issues early but finished with 14 points, 11 assists, four steals and seven rebounds.

“It’s another step in learning how to win,” Fullerton head coach Jeff Harada said. “We lost the last two regular-season games and missed a chance to lock up the No. 2 seed, but it says a lot about the maturity of this team in learning how to win big games and put losses behind you.”

Fullerton (17-13) scored 32 of its 67 points in the paint and turned the ball over just seven times. Forwards Aimee Book (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Carolyn Gill (10 points, 3 blocked shots) also contributed.

Meghann Henderson led CSUN with 15 points and seven rebounds.

“They did a very good job tonight,” CSUN coach Justin Flowers said. “We had some defensive breakdowns and gave up too many easy field goals. It was different than the first two games.”

Perez and Turney have made a huge impact on the Titans’ program. Harada had to build a team from scratch and hit the transfer portal to find Perez, who started her career at Northern Arizona, and Turney, who started at San Jose State.

“They put a lot of emphasis on me tonight,” Perez said, “but you can impact the game in other ways. I started looking for my teammates instead of worrying about my shot. It was great to see the team pick me up.”

The conference decision to shutter the game from fans was a response to the growing number of coronavirus breakouts in Southern California. Only team personnel, game management, the media and a handful of ancillary personnel were in the Pyramid.

The first game between host Long Beach State and Cal Poly had an unusual feel. The second game, which didn’t start until nearly 9 p.m., was a bit more eerie, with the voices of coaches and the ESPN broadcast team the dominant sounds.

“It made it easier for me to talk to the defense,” Harada said. “I’m not sure if it help or hurt. I’m sure we had some fans who were sad because we’ve drawn a nice following this season.”

“It was awkward not having fans at the game, but in the end, the game’s the same,” CSUN’s Henderson said.

“I’m a coach. It didn’t affect me at all,” Flowers said. “I’m really not sure it was a big deal. It’s not a completely foreign thing for us when we play home games like this when (no) students are in school.”

Eighth-seeded Cal Poly will meet third-seeded UC Irvine in the first quarterfinal on Wednesday at 6 p.m. followed by Fullerton and Hawaii at approximately 8:30 p.m. The semifinals are Friday afternoon at the Honda Center, with the championship game scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m., also at the Honda Center.

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Elijah Harkless, CSUN rally past UC Irvine, spoil Anteaters’ Senior Night

  • UC Irvine’s John Edgar Jr. dribbles past CSUN’s Darius Brown II during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Evan Leonard pushes past CSUN’s defense and scores two during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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  • CSUN’s Lamine Diane tries to score two against UC Irvine but is fouled during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s Eyassu Worku maneuver’s past CSUN’s defense and scores during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • CSUN’s Darius Brown II handles the ball against UC Irvine during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • CSUN’s Brendan Harrick passes the ball to Lamine Diane who scores two against UC Irvine during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • UC Irvine’s John Edgar Jr. pushes past CSUN’s defense during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • CSUN’s Lamine Diane drives toward the basket as UC Irvine’s Collin Welp defends during Wednesday’s Big West Conference game at the Bren Events Center. CSUN won 72-70. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

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IRVINE — It’s true that UC Irvine entered its Big West Conference men’s basketball game against visiting CSUN on Wednesday having clinched the outright championship and top seed for next week’s conference tournament.

But the Matadors entered as one of the conference’s top teams – tied for second with two others – so the last thing the Anteaters wanted was to go into the conference tournament on a losing note against a quality team they could soon see again.

But that’s what happened as CSUN upset UC Irvine 72-70 before 2,954 at Bren Events Center.

The score was tied 68-68 with 2:18 to play, but the Anteaters’ only points the rest of the way came on a basket by Brad Greene with 55 seconds left. But that only pulled them within 72-70 because by then the Matadors had made four free throws – two each by Terrell Gomez and Elijah Harkless – on one-and-one opportunities for a 72-68 lead.

UCI (21-11 overall, 13-3 Big West) had a shot at the end after CSUN’s Lamine Diane missed the front end of a one-and-one with 30.3 seconds to play. But 3-point attempts by Evan Leonard (with about seven seconds left) and John Edgar Jr. (at the buzzer) did not fall.

The score was tied 35-35 at halftime, which was something for the Anteaters because they trailed 20-4 less than seven minutes into the game.

Although UCI already sealed its No. 1 spot in the conference tournament, the Matadors are battling to get the No. 2 seed.

UCI’s regular season is over, but CSUN has a home game left Saturday against Hawaii.

Harkless led the Matadors (14-17, 9-6) with a game-high 30 points and was thrilled to play such a big role in a huge win.

“I just think it was big for us to come in here and beat them in their place,” he said.

It’s also something the Matadors can take with them into the conference tournament.

“Yeah, I definitely agree,” said Harkless, who also grabbed seven rebounds. “I think just don’t get too high, don’t get too low; that’s with us. They’re another team, just like us. We don’t get afraid of nobody. We came out and beat them and that showed that we have courage.

“They came and put it on us by 30 the first time.”

UCI defeated the Matadors 87-64 on Feb. 22 at CSUN.

Anteaters coach Russ Turner was displeased, to be sure. He gave credit to the Matadors, but …

“We got out-played on our court on Senior Night,” he said. “That’s on us, that’s on me and that’s on all of us. And that’s disappointing. But that’s why you play the games and that’s why the games are interesting.

“We gave in to softness and I thought selfishness tonight and that’s disappointing at this stage for this group who’s been so good throughout their career.”

When the Anteaters bolted to a nine-point lead early in the second half, they had all the momentum. UCI was still ahead by nine at 55-46 with 12:54 to play before the Matadors began their comeback with a 3-pointer by Gomez (12 points) and a put-back by Harkless. A 15-footer by Harkless gave CSUN a 63-61 lead with 5:42 left.

Harkless was 12 for 19 from the field.

Greene led UCI with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Evan Leonard and Collin Welp scored 13 apiece and Tommy Rutherford had 12 points.

Welp didn’t like the way his team came began.

“We came out slow and we didn’t come out doing what Coach Turner coached us to do,” he said. “And it showed, I thought.”

Leonard said when his team took a nine-point lead in the second half, it might have been guilty of taking its foot off the gas.

“Yeah, we definitely let up, I feel like, as a team,” he said.

He also noted his team struggled to defend Harkless.

Turner had an interesting thought when he was asked if his team was not ready to play.

“I think we were probably too ready, if there is such a thing,” he said. “We were maybe over-stimulated or something, I don’t know. It’s not easy to come and perform on Senior Night.

“I think we had such an easy performance against (CSUN) the first time we played them, that maybe there was an expectation that tonight would be a celebration and not a competition. And credit to Northridge, they were good.

“But the formula when we’ve looked really poor is that we settle for jump shots early in possessions that put our transition defense in peril and that’s exactly what we did tonight early in the game and then again when we allowed them to make a big run on us in the second half after we had built a lead doing what we prepared to do.”

Diane contributed 18 points and eight rebounds for CSUN.

Eyassu Worku was held to eight points on 3-for-15 shooting, including a 2-for-8 mark from 3-point range. UCI missed five of its last six shots from the field, four of them from beyond the arc.

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Cal State Fullerton gets big game from Johnny Wang in loss at Hawaii

HONOLULU — Junior forward Johnny Wang scored a career-high 21 points, but Cal State Fullerton fell behind by double-digits early in the second half and couldn’t erase the deficit in a 70-59 loss to Hawaii on Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Fullerton (10-18 overall, 5-8 Big West Conference) trailed just 38-36 at halftime, but the Rainbow Warriors (16-11, 7-6 Big West) extended the margin to 46-36 less than four minutes into the second half, and the Titans never got closer than six the rest of the way.

Fullerton had 22 turnovers (14 before halftime), which Hawaii converted into 18 points, and was outscored by nine points at the free-throw line (22-13).

Fullerton shot 20 for 41 (49 percent) overall, including a 6-for-18 mark (33 percent) from 3-point range, but the Titans were just 13 for 22 at the foul line (59 percent). Hawaii, which swept the season series from the Titans, shot 43 percent (22 for 51), and just 4 for 13 from beyond the arc but converted 22 of 27 free-throw attempts.

Wang finished 7 for 9 from the field and 6 for 6 from the free-throw line and also grabbed five rebounds. Senior guard Brandon Kamga had 12 points (eight in the first half) and three rebounds but struggled with turnovers and fouled out in 36 minutes. Senior forward Jackson Rowe had 13 points and three rebounds. Sophomore guard Wayne Arnold contributed eight points off the bench, all in the first half.

Drew Buggs paced Hawaii with 20 points. He opened the second half with two free throws and hit a jumper at the 16:07 mark to give the hosts their 46-36 lead.

The Titans trimmed the margin to six again with five minutes to play, but a Buggs jumper made it an 11-point game, Justin Webster followed with a 3-pointer, then Zigmars Raimo added a layup to make it 64-48. Hawaii maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Eddie Stansberry added 15 points for Hawaii and Weber had 10.

Fullerton next plays at Cal State Northridge on Saturday at 7 p.m., while Hawaii is home against UC Riverside the same night.

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