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Big West Roundup : CS Fullerton Loses to New Mexico State, 65-60

When Cal State Fullerton’s Mark Hill hit a 3-point shot that cut New Mexico State’s lead to 59-55 with 1:46 remaining Tuesday night, the situation looked good for Fullerton.

But there was a problem. The Titans, who had come from 13 points behind, had committed only 4 team fouls.

Before Fullerton sent New Mexico State to the free-throw line, 53 seconds passed. The Aggies then made 6 of 6 shots from the line in the final minute, scoring a 65-60 victory before 1,603 fans at Titan Gym in the the Big West Conference opener for both teams.

The foul situation presented a dilemma for Fullerton:

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The Titans could try for a steal, all the while letting time run off the clock.

Or they could foul quickly to reach 7 team fouls, putting New Mexico State closer to the bonus, when it would have to go to the line. But with every foul, the Aggies got a new 45 seconds on the shot clock.

“We got caught in a catch-22,” Coach John Sneed said.

In the end, Fullerton (5-5) rode the fence, trying for a steal for the first few passes and then fouling.

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The Titans had no luck either way. The Aggies protected the ball and hit their free throws, including 4 straight by Jimmy Taylor.

The loss overshadowed a career-high 26-point performance by Hill, who tied a school record by making 6 3-pointers.

Hill made 8 of 12 shots, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range. He also made 4 of 6 free throws as he led the Titans in scoring for the second game in a row.

Cedric Ceballos, who averaged 25 points in his first 7 games, finished with 12. He scored 2 and 16 points in his previous 2 games.

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Center John Sykes, returning after a 1-game suspension for unspecified reasons, scored 14 points, making all 6 field-goal attempts.

The victory was the third in a row for New Mexico State, which is 8-3.

Willie Joseph led the Aggies with 20 points, and Johnny Roberson added 15.

“We had lost 3 and they still came back to play tough tonight,” Sneed said. “That’s a good sign.”

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Fullerton took a 7-4 lead on a 3-pointer by Mark Hill, but the Aggies went on a 13-0 run to go ahead, 17-7, and led, 34-26 at halftime.

A 3-pointer by Taylor and a short jumper by Joseph at the start of the second half gave New Mexico State its biggest lead, 39-26.


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