Cold-Shooting Second Half Dooms Titans in Cheney
CHENEY, Wash. -- Venky Jois and Justin Crosgile each finished with double-doubles on the night and the Eastern Washington defense held Cal State Fullerton to just 28 percent from the field in the second half, rallying for a 79-75 win on Friday night at Reese Court.
The loss ended the Titans' three-game winning streak as Fullerton fell to 3-3 overall, losing its fifth-consecutive road game dating back to last season. The Eagles, who held the Titans to 16 points below their season average entering the night, improved to 2-5 overall with the victory, winning for the second time in their last three games after an 0-4 start.
Senior Kwame Vaughn finished with a game-high 22 points, including 11-of-13 from the free throw line, and senior backcourt mate D.J. Seeley added 21 points on 8-of-16 from the floor, but was held to just two points in the second half after hitting 7-of-13 from the field.
Jois shared game honors with 22 points to go with a game-high 13 boards, hitting 10-of-14 from the field in 36 minutes. Crosgile added 16 points and 10 rebounds to go with six assists to join two other teammates in double figures. Thomas Reuter (16) and Parker Kelly (12) helped the quartet combine for all but 13 of EWU's points on the night.
After leading by seven points, 46-39, at the break, Fullerton led by as many as nine points on three occassions early in the second half. The Eagles whittled the lead down to two points and, after the Titans rebuilt the lead to eight, rallied to tie the game thanks to 11 consecutive points by Reuter during the two runs and back-to-back baskets by Jois to bring EWU even at 58 with 9:34 to play.
Two free throws by Vaughn regained the lead for Fullerton, but that would be the last time the Titans would get in front as Jois scored his third-straight basket and Crosgile buried a three-pointer with 7:46 to play to give the Eagles their first lead since the 8:51 mark of the first half.
Fullerton would go back-and-forth, eventually drawing even at 64 thanks to a pair from the line by Vaughn, but the Titans could not hit a basket late, going almost seven minutes without a field goal while scoring just eight points from the line until Vaughn hit one from close-in with 10 seconds to play.
Meanwhile, the Eagles closed strong, ending the game by hitting 7-of-8 from the line, including a pair to ice the game with 1.4 seconds left after a three by Vaughn made it a one-possession game.
In a first half that featured seven tie scores and seven lead changes, Seeley single-handedly brought the Titans back from an early deficit, scoring the team's first 12 points in the first three-plus minutes for a four-point lead. Later, a three-pointer by Crosgile gave the home side its largest lead of the game to that point at 18-14 with 13:59 and the Eagles led by four points at 28-24 five minutes later before Fullerton went on a 9-0 run for a five-point advantage and the Titans never looked back for the rest of the half, closing on a 7-2 run over the final 2:34 en route to the halftime advantage.
Eastern Washington held a 40-33 advantage on the boards and finished shooting 46 percent for the game.
Cal State Fullerton returns to the court on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., heading back to Seattle for a contest against the University of Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday (Dec. 2).