FULLERTON, Calif. – Tre' Coggins turned in a career-best performance with 41 points to rank second in the Cal State Fullerton single-game record book, but the Titans were unable to complete the comeback effort as they dropped an 85-75 decision to Cal State Northridge Saturday night inside Titan Gym.
The setback marked the Titans' first Big West Conference loss as they drop to 1-1 in league play and 8-7 overall. The Matadors improve to 6-10 on the year, while moving to 1-1 in BWC action.
Coggins and the Titans put together a second half surge as the team recorded 51 points in the frame, while 29 came from the redshirt junior guard. Coggins finished the contest shooting 47 percent from the field as he connected on 9-of-19 field goals. He shot 50 percent (6-for-12) from long distance and was a perfect 17-for-17 from the free throw line.
He is the first Titan to reach 41 points since Josh Akognon did it against CSU Bakersfield on Dec. 13, 2008. With 41 points, Coggins now ties for second for most points scored in the CSF record single-game record book. He is tied with Akognon, who reached the feat twice in 2008, and sits behind Bobby Brown who tallied 47 points in 2006 against Bethune-Cookman.
After trailing by 22 on two separate occasions in the second half, the Titans put together a comeback in the final five minutes of the game as they went on a 14-2 run to cut the Matadors' lead to eight (73-65) at 2:22. Cal State Fullerton continued to close the gap as the Titans made it a two-possession game (75-70) with 1:24 remaining in the game. Fullerton came within five (78-73) once more, but CSUN pulled away and took the game by a score of 85-75.
"That was a very tough loss, especially after the Riverside game," Cal State Fullerton head coach Dedrique Taylor said. "It was disappointing that we did not take advantage of a 41-point performance from Tre' Coggins. We weren't as sharp as we were in the past, offensively, and it impacted our ability to score in other areas outside of Tre'.
"You have to give credit to Northridge," Taylor continued. "They played the game the way they wanted to play the game. They really took over the game and just wore us down."
In addition to Coggins' stellar effort, Khalil Ahmad also turned in a double-figure performance for the Titans with 17 points after going 5-for-12 from the field and 5-for-5 from the line.
CSUN shot an impressive 57.7 percent from the field in the second half to bring its field goal percentage for the game to a sizzling 53.1 percent. The Matadors where led offensively by a 30-point performance from Kendall Smith as well as a 14-point effort from Aaron Parks. Michael Warren and Tavrion Dawson each added 12 points for the Matadors, while Tre Hale-Emerson just missed a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points.
Cal State Fullerton started the game with a 10-0 run and held a steady lead over CSUN for the first six minutes of action. However, Northridge clawed its way back into the game and eventually evened the score at 20-20 at 7:05 on a jumper from Dawson. The Matadors extended their lead to four, before the Titans mounted a come back of their own and pulled within one (25-24) on a jumper off the hands of Leslie at the four-minute mark. But the Matadors would not let the Titans come any closer as the visitors knocked down six straight points to take a 31-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Despite the early offensive surge, the Titans' shooting cooled off as they shot just 23.5 percent from the field in the first half, while the Matadors shot 47.8 percent. Coggins contributed to half of Fullerton's points in the first 20 minutes of play as he recorded 12 points to lead all scorers.
The Matadors returned to the court following the halftime break knocking down eight straight points to take a 39-24 lead over the Titans forcing the hosts to call for a timeout. The break in action did little to deter CSUN as it extended its lead to 22 points (51-29) at 13:42. However, Fullerton refused to let up and the Titans' defense continued to pressure the Matadors.
After getting a few stops on defense, Fullerton's offense started to heat up as Ahmad and Leslie combined for 12 of the Titans' 14 points in their 14-2 run which brought them within eight points with just over two minutes left to play.
The run gave the Titans the momentum they needed to cut the deficit to five at 1:24 and again with just 40 seconds left in the game. However, CSUN would not allow Fullerton to earn its second come-from-behind victory in as many games as the Matadors defeated the Titans by 10 points.
Overall, Cal State Fullerton shot 31.3 percent from the field and 89.7 percent from the charity stripe. The Titans held the edge in rebounding (38-34), but the Matadors owned the advantage in points in the paint (40-10), bench points (31-6) and fast break points (18-2), as well as shooting.
Cal State Fullerton has a week to prepare for its next Big West Conference game against Hawai'i on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m., inside Titan Gym. The contest will be televised on ESPN3.