UC Irvine Defeats Fullerton : Anteaters Slow It Down to Help Knock Titans Out, 81-73

Times Staff Writer

UC Irvine may be a running, gunning team that was averaging 91.2 points a game before Thursday, and Cal State Fullerton a team that plays so deliberately that it scored only 37 points in its last game. But you never would have known it in the last 10 minutes of the teams' Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. game Thursday in front of 3,106 in Titan Gym.

There was Irvine, with a 12-point lead and 10 minutes to play, spreading the offense. And there was Fullerton, running an offense that quickly became the Richard Morton special--shoot from anywhere, quick.

It ended in an 81-73 Irvine victory, its third over the Titans in the past four meetings.

"It was kind of a reverse, wasn't it?" said Wayne Engelstad, Irvine's bulky center, who finished with 20 points, having little trouble with the several Titans who tried to defend him--most of whom finished saddled with fouls.

Frank Woods added 19 for the Anteaters (6-5, 1-1), who ended a three-game losing streak.

Morton, who has carried the bulk of the Fullerton scoring load all season, scored more than half of the Titans' points, finishing with a career-high 38--the most by a Fullerton player since the program became Division I in 1975.

Morton made 14 of 22 shots, including four three-pointers without a miss in the final three minutes.

Irvine helped its cause with a blistering shooting percentage. The Anteaters shot a school-record 80% in the second half (16 of 20), and finished the game at 67%.

"If we'd played like we played against Santa Barbara, we'd have been beaten by 40 points," said Bill Mulligan, Irvine coach.

They didn't, and weren't.

UC Santa Barbara beat the Anteaters, 81-78, Monday.

"We played with a lot more intensity," Mulligan said.

The game, which one would have expected to be a battle of paces, didn't turn out that way.

"We pretty much played the tempo we wanted to play," McQuarn said. "They had the ability to play within our pace . . . I don't want to say anything to diminish what their kids did tonight. I thought they outplayed us on both ends of the floor."

Mulligan said he was never out to force a blistering pace.

"If we shot quickly off the break every time we'd be back down there playing defense 40 seconds right away every time," he said. "Unless we got a great shot off the break, we were going to work it in."

Once Irvine got a big lead in the second half, the Anteaters were predictably much less interested in a fast-paced game, and Fullerton more in need of one.

When Fullerton started a halfcourt trap with about 10 minutes to play, Irvine went to a spread offense--for the first time this season. It worked well, resulting in some easy baskets, and the Anteater lead held up.

For the Titans (4-8, 0-3), it was Morton, and little else.

"You got that right," said George McQuarn, Fullerton coach.

Henry Turner, who scored 13, was the only other Titan to score more than six.

"We have a hard time scoring," McQuarn said. "I think everybody sees it. We're having a very, very difficult time scoring."

The Titans were without starter Bobby Adair, who McQuarn has suspended from the team indefinitely. McQuarn would say only that Adair's suspension was for an incident that occurred during practice Tuesday, but volunteered that it was "not drug-related."

Adair, a 6-8 junior forward, had started 9 of 11 games and averaged 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.

Turner, who averaged 25 points a game during a five-game stretch this season, struggled for the third straight game. He finished with four fouls--three in the first half, all offensive.

Two games ago, in a loss to Cal State Long Beach, foul trouble limited Turner to just six points in 14 minutes. In a loss to New Mexico State Monday, Turner scored only eight.

"There's a lot of pressure, being the only ones scoring," McQuarn said. "I think the pressure also on Henry makes him make maybe not quite the right decision."

Irvine had two players in double figures, in addition to Engelstad and Woods. Kevin Floyd had 12, and Mike Hess, whose performance Mulligan called his best in two years, had 11.

Hess and Floyd also split the difficult duty of guarding Morton.

Fullerton led, 2-0 and 4-2, but never again. Irvine opened an eight-point lead just six minutes into the game, and led, 36-28, at halftime. Fullerton cut it to four early in the second half, but later trailed by as many as 15.

Game Notes

As a reaction to the scuffle that occurred Dec. 30 between Brown Coach Mike Cingiser and longtime Fullerton heckler Bill Harvey, Fullerton has detailed a list of crowd-control policies that include prohibiting fans from moving up and down the sidelines during games. Harvey, a vocal regular on the Fullerton sidelines for 13 years, typically runs up and down the sidelines, shouting. Harvey, who was ejected after the scuffle and is seeking assault charges against Cingiser, did not attend Thursday's game.

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