March 20, 2008
Omaha, Neb. - There will be no Cinderella run into the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2008 for the Titans.
A career-record-tying 31-point performance by Josh Akognon kept Cal State Fullerton close but Big Ten Champion Wisconsin overpowered the Titans in the second half to pull away to a 71-56 victory Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional.
The No. 3-seeded Badgers (30-4) dominated the No. 14-seeded Titans (24-9) on the boards, 50-27, including a 29-10 margin in the second half as the Titans got into foul trouble. Brian Butch led a balanced Wisconsin attack with 14 points to go with 9 rebounds. Jason Bohannon and Joe Krabbenhoft added 13 points each.
Akognon made 11 of 23 shots including 5 of 12 3-pointers and was only one shy of his career high with 8 rebounds.
Fullerton got off to an early lead, fell behind by as many as 8 points but then rallied to get within 2 points at the half, 30-28.
A Cutley free throw gave Fullerton a 31-30 lead with 17:38 to play but the Badgers scored the next 7 points to take the lead for good at 37-31.
"... we had a hard time, because of that foul situation," said CSF Head Coach Bob Burton. "We wanted to pressure and every time we seemed to get close there was a foul. Frank Robinson started to really play good and then next minute he fouled out of the game.
"It really had our rotation kind of fouled up because we're not really that deep of a team. All of a sudden I had to play all those kids in the first half more minutes than I've ever had to play and I think the fatigue probably set in on us.
"They have big strong guys and they're Big Ten champs. They beat us. I was happy with the experience that we got. That was terrific. I just wish we could have played a little bit better."
Fullerton was whistled for 25 fouls compared to only 11 for the Badgers, who held the Titans to their lowest scoring total of the season.
"We're an aggressive team. It's hard to change that when you're in the flow of the game," said Robinson. "I knew I had four fouls, but thinking about the game and knowing how I was supposed to play, it's hard to just try to switch with four fouls. I dove on a loose ball and got called for a fifth foul. That's a tough way to go out. Sitting on the bench for the last 10 minutes was tough. They were just too much for us on the boards."
"Coming into halftime, we were real positive," said Akognon. "A lot of us went out there and started playing hard. We jumped on them early, but then we just started to fall out of it.
"I'm proud of everybody in here (locker room) and we did a good job."
Fullerton will charter home to Ontario Airport Friday, leaving Omaha at approximately noon.