FULLERTON, Calif. – The Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team limited UC Davis to just 22 percent shooting in the second half as the Titans snapped a six-game losing streak with a 61-57 victory over the Aggies Thursday night at Titan Gym.
The win marked the first home conference victory of the season for Cal State Fullerton (9-12, 2-6 BWC) as the Titans' defense shut down UC Davis' (9-12, 4-4 BWC) leading scorers, Josh Fox and Siler Schneider, who combined for just two made field goals in the game.
The Titans led by as many as nine points (57-48) in the close contest that saw 11 ties and seven lead changes. Despite UC Davis cutting the lead down to two (59-57) with just 13 seconds remaining, Cal State Fullerton managed to pull out the victory.
"It's just good to win," Cal State Fullerton head coach Dedrique Taylor said. "No matter how ugly it may have seemed. We found a way to preserve."
Kennedy Esume led the Fullerton defense with 14 boards to help the Titans out-rebound the Aggies 51-33. Jamar Akoh added nine rebounds as he just missed a double-double with eight points, while Tim Myles pulled down a career-best nine boards in the game.
"Everyone pitched in [on the boards]," Taylor said of his post players' efforts. "Tim (Myles) is playing on one leg and he had five offensive rebounds. Our post men showed what they can do against a team that's usually tough on the boards."
Offensively, the Titans received another strong performance from Khalil Ahmad who garnered 19 points in the game. He led a trio of double-figure scorers rounded out by Kyle Allman Jr. (13 points) and Tre' Coggins (10 points).
UC Davis' Neal Monson finished the game with a double-double after recording 12 points and 13 rebounds. He was one of three double-figure scorers for the Aggies including Darius Graham (16 points) and Brynton Lemar (13 points).
The see-saw match was a battle from the start. By halftime, the game had already been knotted seven times and the conference foes had exchanged leads on five occasions. With the game being a back-and-forth affair, it was no surprise that the contest was tied 26-26 at halftime.
The Titans went into the locker room with Ahmad and Coggins leading the offense with eight and seven points, respectively.
In the second half, the Titans' defense stepped up out-rebounding the Aggies 28-17 in the frame. With 20 defensive boards, Cal State Fullerton kept UC Davis' offense to just 22.2 percent shooting from the field and 15.4 percent from three-point range. The Aggies scored more than half of their second half points from the free throw line as they shot 85 percent (17-for-20) from the charity stripe.
Fullerton's offense capitalized on second chance points, out-scoring Davis 5-0 in the second half. The Titans also held the lead in points in the paint (12-4), points off of turnovers (8-5) and bench points (7-2) in the final 20 minutes of action.
The Titans broke the final tie of the game at 11:06 when Coggins was fouled beyond the arc. He sunk all three free throws to give Fullerton a 39-36 advantage that they would not relinquish.
CSF pushed its lead to as many as nine (57-48) with just 1:09 left to play, but UC Davis would not go away. The Aggies used the final minute of action to chip away and make it a two-point (59-57) game on a three from Graham with just 13 seconds remaining.
However, Ahmad put the game out of reach with a pair of made free throws with eight seconds left on the clock and Esume grabbed the final rebound of the game off of a missed jumper from Monson to preserve the win for Fullerton.
Cal State Fullerton heads to UC Santa Barbara for a Saturday evening contest at the Thunderdome. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.