FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton overcame a double-digit deficit and used strong defensive play in the second half to defeat Sacramento State, 59-51, on Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym.
The Titans (5-7), now on a two-game winning streak for the first time this season, outscored the Hornets (3-5) 38-22 in the second half, holding Sacramento State to a .250 (7-of-28) shooting percentage in the final 20 minutes.
Cal State Fullerton also held a 41-29 rebounding advantage for the game, scoring nine second-chance points.
Alex Harris led Cal State Fullerton with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, knocking down 7-of-11 from the charity stripe, while Michael Williams poured in 10, recording his 12th consecutive game in double figures.
Cal State Fullerton trailed by eight at the break, but opened the second half on a 13-2 run to grab a 34-31 lead at the 13:55 mark, as the Titans would not trail for the remainder of the game.
But the one area Cal State Fullerton did not hold an advantage was three-pointers as Sacramento State knocked down nine, including one from Dylan Garrity at the 12:30 mark which tied the game at 37-37 in the second half.
But that would be Sacramento State's last made field goal until the 4:16 mark when Mikh McKinney nailed a trey as the Titans put together a 10-2 run during that stretch with Sacramento State missing six attempts.
McKinney led all scorers with 16 points, while Garrity added 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from behind the arc.
The Hornets pulled within three, 51-48, again at the 1:45 mark as McKinney converted a three-point play. Williams made 1-of-2 at the line on the next play for Fullerton, and Steve McClellan's offensive board gave CSF an extra possession that led to two made Harris free throws.
The Hornets pulled within three, 54-51, again after another Garrity trey but the Titans converted 5-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final 53 seconds while Sacramento State missed its last three shot attempts.
McKinney led all scorers with seven points at the break as Sacramento State held a 29-21 advantage.
The Hornets knocked down five three-pointers in the first half as Sac State shot 44.4 (12-of-27) from the floor and committed only seven turnovers compared to 11 for the Titans.
During the first half, the teams combined to knock down five consecutive three-pointers as Sac State's Dreon Barlett hit the first, followed by Josh Gentry returning the favor for Fullerton. Garrity hit a second 3-pointer for the Hornets, and once again Gentry responded, but it was Garrity for the second time who made the fifth of the stretch.
The five combined three-pointers were part of a 13-6 run by the Hornets who led 16-10 with 10:17 to play.
Sacramento State took its first double-digit lead, 25-15, with 3:37 left to play in the first after a McKinney trey.
Cal State Fullerton has just two non-conference games remaining before Big West Conference play begins. The Titans travel to UNLV (Dec. 28) and Tulsa (Jan. 4) before hosting UC Riverside on Jan. 9.
Notes: Cal State Fullerton used its fifth starting lineup of the year: Sheldon Blackwell, Michael Williams, Alex Harris, Chris Collins and Joe Boyd…Josh Gentry tied a career high with three 3-pointers…Fullerton overcame a 10-point deficit in the win – the largest deficit the Titans have overcome this year…the all-time series between the Hornets and Titans is now even at 6-6…the Titans have won back-to-back games for the first time this season…Fullerton's 59-point total is its lowest in a win this year….Michael Williams has scored in double figures in 12 straight games.