Titans Open Tourney With Win Over Matadors

March 10, 2010

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ANAHEIM, CA - Cal State Fullerton junior Jer'Vaughn Johnson finished with a double-double, scoring a game-high 20 points and grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds while leading three teammates in double figures Wednesday night to help lift the fifth-seeded Titans to an 84-76 victory over No. 8 seed Cal State Northridge in the Big West Conference men's basketball tournament opener at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Titans improved to 16-14 overall on the season and move on to face fourth-seeded UC Davis on Thursday night at approximately 8:30 p.m. in Anaheim. The Matadors finished their season at 11-21 overall.

Johnson hit 8-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the line to pace all players before fouling out with 2:25 remaining in the second half. Devon Peltier came off the bench to add 19 points on five three-pointers and 4-of-4 from the line while Gerard Anderson and Jacques Streeter finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively.

See Anderson's spectacular second-half dunk.

Mark Hill led a quintet of Matadors in double figures, scoring 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including a trio of three-pointers. Vincent Cordell finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds in the loss.

The game swung in the final 7 minutes of the half when the Titans finished with a 21-8 run, turning a 25-24 deficit into a 45-33 lead at the half, matching their best intermission margin over a Div. I team all season.

The lead grew as small as 5 points, the last time at 60-55 at 8:14 after a Vinnie McGhee 3-pointer. But the Titans went on a 10-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by Aaron Thompson at 5:58. The final margin was as close as the Matadors would get.

"I thought we played well tonight," said Fullerton Coach Bob Burton, who won his 123rd game at Fullerton to move into the No. 2 spot in career victories and the top spot at the Div. I level.

"Our defense was pretty good, but not at the beginning. That's why Galick had so much success. His two fouls helped us. And V.I. (Peltier) hit some big shots in that run late in the half.

"He's a great shooter. We had a pretty good shooter last year in Josh Akognon, and in a game of horse, I don't know if Josh could beat him."

"My eyes do light up when I see a zone," said Peltier. "They were face guarding me most of the night. I just try to find gaps in the zone or get open in the corner and they pop it out to me."

Northridge played without one its leading scorers and rebounders in Lenny Daniel, who was suspended for academic problems.

"I take the same approach to the game, but him not playing really helped us," said Johnson. "It was a battle inside. No. 14 (Galick) played really hard. Our emphasis at halftime was to slow him down and I think we did a pretty good job."

Fullerton went 0-2 vs. Davis this season, losing on Jan. 2 and again Saturday in overtime in Titan Gym.

"Our problem with Davis," said Burton, "is (Dominic) Calegari. He looked like Larry Bird against us. We haven't guarded him yet.

"But I feel good about playing them, if we're healthy. Streeter hurt his ankle. We wanted to get him out as soon as we could but I wanted to win this game, too."

The win guarantees the Titans a winning season, their fifth in Burton's seven years at Fullerton. The Titans have won at least one game in the touranment for the sixth season in a row.

"Having a game under our belt in this building helps us, too."