Feb. 26, 2009
Riverside, Calif. - Kyle Austin scored 21 points and seldom used reserve David Chavarria made two clutch free throws to lead UC Riverside to a 63-60 Big West Conference victory Thursday night over Cal State Fullerton.
The Highlanders also got 11 points from Brandon Dowdy and closed out their home season with a 16-10 record, 7-6 in the Big West. Fullerton got 19 points from Josh Akognon and 18 from Aaron Thompson but fell to 13-15, 7-8, losing for the fifth time in the last six games..
Akognon hit an apparent 3-pointer to tie the game with 4.8 seconds left but was ruled to have stepped out of bounds in front of the Titan bench before the shot, which was set up when Austin missed the front end of a one-and-one with 17 seconds left. Dowdy also missed a one-and-one with 4.8 seconds left but Akognon just missed with an attempt from half court.
Chavarria, a freshman who had played only 7 minutes all season, coverted both ends of a one-and-one for a 63-58 UCR lead with 57.7 seconds left. Thompson countered with a jumper and the Titans got a stop when Dowdy missed. But Thompson fumbled the ball out of bounds after the rebound.
"Josh's foot definitely hit the line," said Burton of the near tie. "But he felt he was pushed.
"We had a chance to win a road game but you can't make the mistakes and turn the ball over and win games. We busted our tails in the second half - I can't fault our effort. But we were sleepwalking in the first half.
"Gerard Anderson suffered a concussion in the first half. That changed a lot of things. He was supposed to guard Austin, although Aaron did a good job on him."
For the 12th time in 15 conference games, the Titans trailed at the half. But they came roaring out of the locker room. Jacques Streeter scored the first six points of the half and Thompson put an exclamation point on an 8-0 run with a dunk. Austin made a 3-point play to stop the spurt but the Titans opened a 6-point lead at 47-41 at 12:27 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Marcio Lassiter and a Streeter free throw. But the Highlanders went on a 10-0 burst to regain the lead at 51-47.
Akognon hit a trey, Thompson made a spinner in the lane and Ray Miller dunked on a fastbreak and Fullerton was back on top 54-51. Another 3-point play by Austin tied the score and Jesse LoBue's trey put UCR ahead, 57-54. Fullerton regained the lead after buckets by Thompson and Miller. But Austin powered his way through two defenders to score inside for a 59-58 lead at 2:19. The Titans turned the ball over twice without a shot and the second led to a Sean Cunningham breakaway layup for a 61-58 lead with 1:18 to play. Streeter missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Miller fouled Chavarria going for the rebound.
Both teams shot 40 percent from the floor but UCR made 10 of 21 3-pointers while Fullerton made only 9 of 30. UCR, which outrebounded the Titans, 40-30, ultimately won the game at the foul line, making 11 of 14 while Fullerton made only 7 of 13.
UCR finished 11-2 for the best home record in the Big West.
The first half evolved into a 3-point shooting contest. UCR made 7 of its first 9 before missing its last five to finish at 50 percent. Fullerton made only 5 of 17 treys and only 10 of 30 overall. Fullerton didn't score in the final 3:55.
Akognon scored the game's first five points but that would be the Titans' biggest lead of the half. UCR got consecutive treys from Dowdy and Austin to take a 6-5 lead and the Highlanders had the advantage for most of the half. UCR's biggest lead was 13-7.
Fullerton played a non-conference game at Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday and hosts UC Irvine on March 7 in the regular season finale.