Titans Fall Short in Homecoming Thriller
FULLERTON, Calif. – Alex Harris' last-second three-pointer was off the mark on Saturday night as Cal State Fullerton failed to hold on to its halftime lead suffering an 83-80 loss to Hawai'i in front of 3,017 fans at Titan Gym during Homecoming.
The Titans (8-16, 3-7 Big West) trailed by three with 16 seconds on the clock and after a timeout, Harris fired up the game-tying attempt from the wing with two seconds left on the clock, only to have the shot fall off the mark.
Harris, who led the Titans with a career-high 29 points, had evened the game at 78-78 with 1:28 to play after collecting a steal and converting a fast break jam.
Hawaii (18-7, 7-4 Big West) answered quickly as Garrett Nevels buried a baseline three-pointer with 1:03 left in the game. On Fullerton's following possession, Harris took the ball to the rim and was fouled. The junior from Richmond, Calif., made both shots at the line to pull the Titans within one, 81-80.
Cal State Fullerton an opportunity to take the lead after a turnover by UH's Quincy Smith led to a Sheldon Blackwell steal. The rookie was fouled in a scramble for possession and sent to the line, missing both attempts with 18 seconds to go.
Fullerton was then forced to foul the Rainbow Warriors as Nevels made both of his attempts for UH and Hawaii took an 83-80 lead.
The Titans are currently tied for seventh in the Big West Conference standings.
Harris led Fullerton with 29 points – a season best for any Titan this year as well as marking his fourth straight 20-point effort. Harris made 8-of-9 from the free-throw line and added four assists.
Blackwell scored a career-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting while also adding a career-high tying six rebounds.
The third Titan to reach double figures was senior Michael Williams, pouring in 16 points, knocking down three 3-pointers and dishing four assists.
Fullerton led by as many as eight, 65-57, with 8:37 remaining in the game, but UH erased its deficit on a an 11-3 run over the next three minutes as Isaac Fotu scored five points for UH during that stretch.
Fotu led a quintet of Warriors in double figures, scoring 24 points and shooting a flawless 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. Keith Shamburger nearly had a double-double with 11 points and nine assists while Nevels finished his night scoring 12.
Brandon Spearman poured in 14 points for UH and Christian Standhardinger added 10.
Cal State Fullerton held a 46-42 lead over Hawai'i at the break led by 12 first-half points from Harris as the Titans shot a startling 62.1 percent (18-of-29) from the floor.
The Titans trailed by seven, 17-10, early on but Fullerton quickly closed the gap tying the game 30-30 on a Williams' three-pointer as 7:50 remained until the break as part of a 22-13 run.
During that stretch, Harris had 12 points by the 11:54, and the Titans closed 26-25 after a Marquis Horne trey.
After a Harris rebound, Williams was fouled on the fast break and made two at the line, giving Fullerton its first lead of the game, 32-30.
The Titans ended the half on an 8-0 runs as Josh Gentry scored four points during the final two minutes while Blackwell's dunk ignited the crowd and Steve McClellan ended the period with an inside bucket.
Cal State Fullerton returns to action on Thursday, traveling to Cal Poly for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
Notes: Cal State Fullerton used its ninth starting lineup of the year, Sheldon Blackwell, Alex Harris, Michael Williams, Chris Collins, Steve McClellan…Michael Williams has scored in double figures for 24 straight games…the Titans were without Jared Brandon, who is listed as day-to-day with a hip injury…Sheldon Blackwell scored a career-high 15 points…Alex Harris' 29 points marked a career best as well as a Titan season high...the Titans lost their fourth game when leading at the half…Fullerton is also 3-2 when scoring 80 points or more…the crowd of 3,017 was Fullerton's largest of the year.