Joyner made a 3-pointer—his first basket of the season—to give UC Santa Barbara a lead it would not relinquish in a 73-65 victory over the Titans on Feb. 17.
The Gauchos maintained a half-game lead over second-place Pacific and gave themselves a three-game lead over the third-place Titans with three games remaining.
Burton knew the ramifications on the conference race and was understandably disappointed after his team squandered a 54-49 lead over the last nine minutes.
“I thought it was such a winnable game,” Burton told the Orange County Register. “Santa Barbara’s really good, and their defense is hard to score against.
“But we had such great shots, and when the game was really on the line, we didn’t step up in two areas: We didn’t put the ball in the basket when we had key, easy shots, shots that I thought were really make-able, and then we didn’t get key stops.”
Burton thought the Titans lacked energy four days after beating Cal State Northridge in a wild 113-112 triple-overtime thriller.
“I honestly didn’t think we were as fired up as we should have been,” Burton said. “There’s been a lot of emotion in these games. I understand. It’s taken its toll. But still I didn’t think we came out with as much enthusiasm and fire as we should have. I was discouraged with that.”
It was Cal State Fullerton’s third loss in its last four games at Titan Gym, a disturbing trend with pivotal home games against Pacific and UC Davis looming in the final week of the regular season.
The Titans turned in a lackluster effort at home in a Bracket Busters game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Feb. 20, but they pulled out a 78-74 victory.
“We did what we wanted to do, which was just to win the game because we had been struggling here,” Burton told the Daily Titan. “I don’t think anyone was really happy with the way we played.”
• Cal State Fullerton played Long Beach State before a crowd of 2,792 at Titan Gym on Jan. 7 and UC Irvine before 3,244 on Feb. 10. So coach Bob Burton couldn’t help noticing there were only 600 in attendance for the Titans’ 78-74 victory over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Feb. 20. “I think it was one of the smallest crowds we’ve had all year,” Burton told the Daily Titan. “I think our kids feed off of that a little bit.” It was the second-lowest attendance at Titan Gym this season. There were 542 at Cal State Fullerton’s season-opening victory over Hope International.
• Coach Bob Burton knows what to look for in a Big West Conference player of the year candidate, and he likes what he sees in UC Santa Barbara sophomore Orlando Johnson. “He’s the best player in the league,” Burton told the Orange County Register. “I don’t think there’s any question about that. He’ll be the MVP of the league.” Burton coached Josh Akognon, who was selected player of the year in 2009, and Scott Cutley, who was co-player of the year in 2008.
On The Spot: Cal State Fullerton coach Bob Burton hopes his team will play better defense down the stretch. The Titans allowed 73 points or more in five of their previous six games. Cal State Northridge scored 44 in one half against the Titans on Feb. 13. UC Riverside, which averages 63.6 points, scored 76 against the Titans on Feb. 6. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, which averages 62.5 points, scored 74 at Titan Gym on Feb. 20.
Quote To Note: “The next three games, like coach said, (are) going to determine our lives. If we win the next three games, we’ll have a better seeding in the (Big West Conference) tournament. I think everyone is starting to realize that it’s getting really serious now.”—Senior F Gerard Anderson, to the Daily Titan.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Season Recap: Cal State Fullerton’s Feb. 17 loss to UC Santa Barbara might prove costly for the Titans. They’ve managed to hold on to third place in the Big West Conference, but first and second place may be out of reach. That’s critical because the first- and second-place teams receive first- and second-round byes into the semifinals of the Big West tournament. The Titans still can secure a first-round bye with a third- or fourth-place finish, but at 7-6 they were only a half-game ahead of fourth-place UC Davis and one game ahead of Long Beach State and Cal Poly as of Feb. 23.
Player Rotation: Usual Starters—G Jacques Streeter, G Aaron Thompson, F Gerard Anderson, F JerVaughn Johnson, C Bryce Webster. Key Subs—G Devon Peltier, F Orane Chin, F Papa Guisse, G Jamal McGuire.
- Cal State Fullerton 113, Cal State Northridge 112
- UC Santa Barbara 73, Cal State Fullerton 65
- Cal State Fullerton 78, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 74
- at Cal Poly, Wednesday, Feb. 24
- vs. Pacific, Thursday, March 4
- vs. UC Davis, Saturday, March 6
In Focus: Cal State Fullerton is in position to earn a first-round bye in the Big West Conference tournament with a third- or fourth- place finish. The Titans have an outside chance of securing a double bye into the semifinals with a second-place finish, but they will have to beat Pacific on March 4 at Titan Gym. The Tigers handed the Titans an 80-73 loss on Jan. 21. Pacific G Demetrece Young scored a career-high 22 points in that game, making six of seven shots from 3-point range.
• Junior F JerVaughn Johnson had a career-high 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting with seven rebounds in an 85-80 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 23. He had a career-high 11 rebounds and tied his career high with two blocked shots in the rematch on Feb. 17, but he wasn’t nearly as good offensively, scoring eight points on 4-of-12 shooting in a 73-65 loss.
• Senior G Aaron Thompson fell behind the pace for the Big West Conference record for 3-point field-goal percentage. Thompson was shooting 51.8 percent as of Feb. 23 after missing his only two 3-point shots in a Feb. 20 victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. UC Irvine’s Mike Doktorczyk (1988-89) holds the record of 51.9 percent.
• Junior G Devon Peltier had taken 217 shots this season as of Feb. 23, 156 (71.9 percent) of them from 3-point range. He went 3-for-7 from beyond the arc and finished with 16 points in a Feb. 20 victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, the 13th time he has made at least three 3-pointers in a game this season.