IRVINE, Calif. – Khalil Ahmad turned in his third 20-point performance of the season, but Cal State Fullerton could not contain UC Irvine's offensive attack as the Titans fell to the Anteaters 72-59 at the Bren Events Center Wednesday night.
The Anteaters (16-5, 5-0 BWC) have not lost a game when playing at home as they held the Titans (8-9, 1-3 BWC) to 36 percent shooting and just 22.2 percent from beyond the arc. Fullerton did out-shoot Irvine from the free throw line as the Titans shot 73.1 percent to the Anteaters' 64.3 percent. However, UC Irvine's 45.8 percent shooting from the field was enough to earn the hosts the win.
Ahmad finished the game with 21 points to go along with seven rebounds. He also added one assist and one steal in another solid outing by the freshman. Kyle Allman Jr., notched a career-high 16 points for the Titans, while Kennedy Esume grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
UC Irvine had four double-figure scorers in Jaron Martin (22 points), Mamadou Ndiaye (13 points), Luke Nelson (12 points) and Mike Best (11 points).
The Anteaters started the game with a jumper from Ndiaye and never looked back as they held the lead for all 40 minutes of action.
The Titans kept things close in the first half as they shot 37 percent to the Anteaters' 41.4 percent. By halftime, Ahmad had already racked up 12 points and five boards to lead all scorers. However, CSF was down by seven (31-24) going into the locker room.
Despite the Titans' efforts, the Anteaters came out from the break on an offensive tear starting the frame on an 11-4 run. UC Irvine pushed its lead to 10 several times before opening up their advantage to 16 points (55-39), which forced Cal State Fullerton to call for a timeout.
Following the break in action, UC Irvine managed to extend its lead to as many as 25 (67-42) by the 5:21 mark. Although down by more than 20, Cal State Fullerton stayed on UCI and cut the Anteaters' lead to 13 (70-57) with just under one minute left to play.
But, the Titans began chipping away too late in the game and dropped the contest by a score of 72-59.
Cal State Fullerton looks to get back on the winning track Saturday, Jan. 23, when the Titans host Cal Poly in a 4 p.m., contest. The game will be televised on ESPN3.