Titans Tied for First Place

Titans Tied for First Place

The Cal State Fullerton Men's Basketball team continued its hot streak behind the near perfect shooting of Scott Cutley and Josh Akognon, defeating Pacific 92-78 to move into a tie for first place in the Big West Conference Saturday at the Titan Gym.

The duo each had a game-high 24 points on a combined 19-26 shooting for CSUF, improving the team's record to 17-7, 10-3 in conference play and dropping the Tigers' record to 17-8, 8-4. The win gave the Titans their seventh win in the past eight games.

"I was just feeling it tonight," Cutley said.

The senior scored a season-high 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting, adding six rebounds, six assists and five steals. It was Cutley's ability to hit the three-point shot against the Tigers that opened the floor for everyone else, despite entering the game shooting 25 percent from beyond the arc.

"I put it in a lot of work with my assistant coaches before games and after practices," Cutley said. "I haven't been shooting the ball from the outside very good this year, but me and my coaches have been putting in a lot of shots."

After the game, Akognon said he was excited to see Cutley's shots going down.

"This year he hasn't been shooting three[-pointers] and I told him he had it. Finally, the ball started falling for him, so I think it's going to open up a lot for us in the upcoming games," Akognon said.

Akognon, third in scoring in the Big West at 19.8 points-per-game, returned to form after injuring the pinky on his shooting hand against UC Davis Jan. 19. Since returning from the injury, the Titan guard has only shot 32 percent (23-71) from the field, far from the 47 percent he was shooting before the injury.

Akognon said the injury had nothing to do with his recent poor shooting.

"It was just a slump. The shots weren't going down, but it was just a matter of time," Akognon said.

The Titans took control of the game midway through the first half. After Tigers' guard Chad Troyer hit a three-pointer to tie the game 19-19, the Titans went on a 12-0 run to take the lead for good.

In the second half, Titan Head Coach Bob Burton said the team managed the clock very well to keep the Tigers from making a comeback.

"Whenever we got it to Josh Akognon [late in the game], he made it every time," Burton said.

Senior Frank Robinson was held off the score sheet in the first half, but came up big late in the game, scoring seven points in the final five minutes when the Tigers were attempting to make a comeback.

The Titan's second leading scorer said it was Cutley and Akognon's night to shine.

"We [Cutley, Akognon and I] take turns going off and tonight it was their turn," Robinson said. "Anytime you beat Pacific it's a big win. They've dominated the league for so long."

The Titans 61 percent shooting (36-59 FG/FGA) was their third highest output of the season, but Burton said it was the team's defense that made the difference.

"Our defense set the tone for us. If you let [Pacific] run their offense, you're just going to play catch-up all night," Burton said.

Despite being without starting point guard Junior Russell for the fourth consecutive game due to a suspension, the Titans received solid play from senior Ray Reed. Reed had a game-high nine assists while filling in for Russell and will start at least one more game for CSUF.

The Titans return to the court versus Portland State as part of ESPNU's Bracket Buster Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at the Titan Gym.

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