Titans Score 90-64 Victory, but Sneed Is Not Pleased
There they were, John Sneed’s 10 warriors, playing with a lead for a change.
And Sneed, the Cal State Fullerton coach, was beside himself.
Sneed’s band of players, the gritty 10 who have stuck with Fullerton while three other players and a head coach did not, went from overachievers to underachievers Saturday.
After a 2-1 start marked by furious and spirited comebacks, Fullerton went flat against Sonoma State, a Division II team. The Titans led by only 8 with 6 minutes to go, but finally beat Sonoma State, 90-64, in front of 1,210 in Titan Gym.
This was against a team that lost to Cal State Northridge by 26 points Thursday to fall to 3-5, and this was a game that Sneed called “an embarrassment.”
Sneed was distressed despite Fullerton’s third victory in 4 games and Cedric Ceballos’ 29-point, 15-rebound performance. It was the second time in 4 games Ceballos has been in double figures in both points and rebounds.
“I told them after the game that was the least enjoyable win I’ve been associated with in 17 years of coaching,” Sneed said. “They played to the level of the competition. They didn’t play within the system. But talent prevailed, and they won the ballgame.”
Fullerton opened the game with an intense 9-0 spurt, not allowing Sonoma State a field goal in the first 3:51.
But the Titans played poorly much of the half, committing 13 turnovers and 12 fouls, sending Sonoma State to the line 13 times.
“We caused ourselves trouble by reaching and slapping and putting them at the line,” Sneed said. “That’s not the way we’re supposed to defend.”
Fullerton never led by as many as 9 again in the first half, and by halftime led by just 4, 42-38. Against an opponent, of Sonoma State’s caliber, that was cause for beration.
“I let them know in my own special way,” Sneed said tersely.
The second half started no better at first. Sneed called a timeout within the first minute, and then the Titans got on track.
“We came out and missed three layups,” Sonoma State Coach Dick Walker said. “We could have gone ahead.”
Instead, Fullerton scored the first 8 points of the second half, taking a 50-38 lead.
Mark Hill, who finished with 18 points, hit a 3-pointer, followed by a 17-foot jumper by Wayne Williams.
Then Ceballos came up with a steal and drove downcourt for a tomahawk dunk over Derrick Bell, who fouled him on the play.
After an elaborate high-fiving, hand-shaking, elbow-knocking celebration with Williams, Ceballos hit the free throw, putting Fullerton up by 12.
Fullerton went up by as many as 15, but Sonoma State cut into the lead again. The Titan lead was just 62-53 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Matt Boyle and Bell.
The Cossacks had their chances. Fullerton turned the ball over repeatedly. Hill threw a pass into a defender’s hands. John Sykes caught a pass in the middle and threw it into the open court. With the lead at 10, Fullerton allowed 6-foot 4-inch forward Jasbir Negra an offensive rebound and a basket, with Derek Jones, who scored 20 points, committing his fifth foul on the play. Negra hit the free throw, leaving Sonoma State just 8 points behind, 66-58, with 6:08 to play.
“I think they felt we were in the game then, down 8,” said Walker, Sonoma State coach. “Then it got away.”
Fullerton got the lead back to 10 on 2 free throws by Ceballos, then went up by 13 on a 3-point play by Williams on a breakaway layup off a steal by Marlon Vaughn. Ceballos hit a basket off an offensive rebound, then Vaughn drove for a basket. With that 9-0 run, Fullerton led, 75-58, and the game finally was out of reach.
John Sykes, who has been playing better than David Moody, started at center for the first time this season. But after a 2-point, 10-rebound, 2-turnover performance, Sneed said Sykes won’t start the next game. “He won it in practice, but he lost it in the game,” Sneed said. Moody was 0 for 2 with 1 rebound. . . . After shooting 41% or below in its first 2 games, Fullerton shot 50% or better for the second game, making 17 of 34 shots.