After matching a season high scoring 42 points in the first half, the Titans (9-16, 2-10 BWC) were held to a 35-point performance in the final 20 minutes as UCI (20-7, 9-2 BWC) outscored Fullerton 55-29 for the closing 16 minutes of the game.
UCI shot 76.0 percent (19-of-25) from the field in the second half, including 9-of-11 from three-point range (.818).
Jaron Martin led the Anteaters with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting off the bench, while Mamadou Ndiaye scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Alex Young added 13 points and totaled five assists, while Luke Nelson produced a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 10 assists.
Malcolm Brooks led the Titans with a 22-point performance on an 8-of-17 shooting night while also matching a season best knocking down six buckets from three-point range. Tre' Coggins scored 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting knocking down three treys.
The Titans' lead increased to 48-41 with 16:14 remaining in the game, but UC Irvine pieced together a 15-6 run to take its first lead, 56-54, in nearly 15 minutes at the 11:01 mark on an Aaron Wright lay-up. The Anteaters' run continued, 27-10, as Wright nailed a three-pointer to put UCI ahead by double digits, 68-58, with 8:20 remaining. Wright finished the game with 12 points.
Cal State Fullerton held a 42-36 lead at the half, ending the period on a 5-0 run as Leslie and Ahmad knocked down jumpers in the final minutes.
The first half contained the Titans most productive first 20 minutes of basketball during the season as the CSUF matched a season bests with points (42) and assists (11) and set season high in field goal percentage (.571) and 3-pointers made (7).
Ahmad led all scorers in the first stanza with 11 points, while Leslie added 10 on 4-of-5 shooting and Brooks knocked down three buckets from beyond the arc.
The game was tied seven times and the lead changed 11 times in the first half as UCI's lead never exceeded three points.
UCI's last advantage was 32-29 at the 6:29 mark before Leslie drained a trey at the corner to tie the game followed by Brooks' third bucket from long distance as the Titans took the lead.
The Titans return to action at Long Beach State on Saturday with the game set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Prime Ticket.
Notes: Cal State Fullerton started Khalil Ahmad, Tre' Coggins, Malcom Brooks, Malcolm Henderson and Jamar Akoh for the first time since Dec. 29…Cal State Fullerton matched a season best with 42 points in the first half.