FULLERTON, Calif. – Alex Harris' last-second jumper from the free-throw line fell off the mark as Cal State Fullerton came up excruciatingly short in a 58-56 loss to Cal Poly on Thursday night at Titan Gym.
The Titans (6-12, 1-3 Big West) had trailed by as many as 14 in the game, but fought all the way back to hold the chance to win the game on the final possession.
The Mustangs (8-10, 4-1 Big West) led by as many as nine, 50-41, with 10:14 in the second period, but Fullerton battled back.
The Titans made their final push under the five-minute mark as Josh
Gentry drove the lane and dropped in a high-arching runner with 4:17 to play. On Cal Poly's following possession, Harris stole the ball and the Cal Poly turnover resulted in a Harris dunk on the offer from Michael Williams as Fullerton trailed 55-53 with 3:36 left to play.
Joel Awich hit a three-pointer for Cal Poly to give the Mustangs some breathing room at the 3:05 mark, but Williams kept the Titans within striking distance with a jumper on Fullerton's next possession.
With the Mustangs clinging to a 58-56 lead as 1:08 remained, Williams picked up a steal for Fullerton and the Titans called a timeout. On the possession, Fullerton committed a turnover of its own, but the Titan defense forced a Cal Poly missed shot and Marquis Horne got to the floor to corral the rebound and call timeout.
The Titans had a final look at the basket on Harris' missed jumper.
Williams led Fullerton with a game-high 20 points, recording his 18thconsecutive game scoring in double figures as well as his fifth 20-point game of the year.
Harris added 10 points, and rookie point guard Sheldon Blackwell dished a game-high four assists.
Cal Poly was led by Jamal Johnson's 12 points while Brian Bennett chipped in 10 points.
After Fullerton had worked diligently to even the game, 33-33, with 18:27 left in the second half, the Mustangs produced an 11-3 run, building their lead to 46-38 with 11:56 remaining.
Fullerton held a 22-14 advantage for points in the paint, but Cal Poly shot 48.9 percent (22-of-45) from the floor and 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from three-point range. Fullerton was held to a .429 shooting percentage, and held a 28-24 rebounding advantage.
Cal Poly took a 33-27 lead at the half after shooting 52.0 percent (13-of-25) from the floor, knocking down 5-of-9 attempts from three-point range while committing only three turnovers.
The Mustangs led by as many as 14, 26-12, with 6:59 remaining in the first after a Ridge Shipley trey, but Fullerton closed the period on a 15-7 run.
Williams led all scorers with 10 points in the first period, knocking down two three-pointers.
Cal State Fullerton returns to the floor on Saturday hosting UC Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
Notes: Michael Williams scored in double figures for the 18th consecutive game…Fullerton has not held a lead in seven games this season.