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Fullerton Too Tall an Order For Japanese Team, 87-53

Times Staff Writer

Tomohide Utsumi, as everyone knows, is a starting guard on the Japanese national team.

Saturday night in Titan Gym, he found himself in a predicament that illustrated why Cal State Fullerton had such an easy time defeating the Japanese, 87-53, in an exhibition game in front of 837.

With 5:20 remaining in the first half and his team behind by 15 points, the 5-foot 9-inch Utsumi picked up a loose ball at halfcourt and dribbled until he was under the basket, ready to make what looked like an uncontested layup.

That is until the elongated bodies of Fullerton’s 6-foot 8-inch Vincent Blow, 6-7 Carl Pitts and 6-3 Eugene Jackson glided past, one by one, each with every intention of doing serious surface damage to the ball.

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Eventually Jackson did do damage . . . to Utsumi’s arm, and the Japanese ended up with two points on his free throws. But the point was clear, the Titans were physically and athletically far superior to the Japanese team.

Consider that Fullerton’s starting guards, 6-3 Richard Morton and 6-4 Kevin Henderson, were as tall as the Japan’s starting forwards. The Titans outrebounded the Japanese, 47-22.

All of this would have changed drastically had the Japanese had the services of injured center Yusutaka Okayama, who was listed as 7-5 in a press release, 7-8 by Japanese Coach Moto Kohama and 7-9 by Fullerton Coach George McQuarn

“When we scheduled the game, we thought we’d be playing against him,” McQuarn said when asked if he would have liked a little tougher competition. “When they had him this summer they beat Indiana University twice. We thought that would be the team we would be playing.”

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But it wasn’t. With 6-6 Norihiko Kitahara filling in at center, Titan sophomore center Vincent Blow led Fullerton with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Kerry Boagni added 11 points and four rebounds.

Playing their first game for Fullerton, Alexander Hamilton, formerly of Verbum Dei High School, and Carl Pitts (L.A. Trade Tech), each had eight points.

Ten of the 12 players on the Fullerton roster scored.

The Titans open the season officially Nov. 22 when they play at the University of Hawaii.

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By the way, Utsumi did get a measure of revenge. He led the Japanese with 19 points.


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