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Fresno State ‘Embarrasses’ CS Fullerton, 65-44

Times Staff Writer

After winning only 9 games in each of his first 2 seasons, Fresno State Coach Ron Adams has been under scrutiny this season, his job almost certainly depending on whether his team can come close to .500.

On Monday night in front of 9,856 in Selland Arena, Adams reached what may prove a watershed, getting his 10th victory of the season as the Bulldogs handed Cal State Fullerton its most thorough defeat of the season, 65-44, in a game that Fullerton Coach John Sneed called “a total embarrassment.”

With at least 10 games remaining, Adams has won more games than in either of his previous seasons.

What does this mean?

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“This means we’re getting better,” Adams said. “I haven’t shared my feelings about the first 2 years much. I have a lot to say, but I haven’t said it. It was difficult.”

The Bulldogs beat Fullerton on a night when the Titans were not at their best, making only 18 of 58 shots (31%) and scoring fewer points than any game since a 41-37 loss to New Mexico State last season.

Fullerton fell behind by as many as 14 in the first half, and then saw the game completely unravel at the start of the second. Just 3 minutes into the final period, freshman guard Wilbert Hooker made a 3-pointer and Fresno State had a 44-22 lead. The lead grew to as many as 28 points.

Senior forward Jervis Cole led Fresno with 22 points, and Kevin Stevenson and Hooker each had 14.

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Fullerton’s Cedric Ceballos scored 15.

“We lost our poise and never recovered it,” Sneed said. “I was very disappointed in the way we took the court. We were never ready to play. We got down and went in the tank. Fresno State showed more discipline and poise. We regressed to the way we were playing earlier in the year. That’s all I have to say about it.”

Fresno State’s Adams took over in 1987, after the resignation of Boyd Grant, who did not have a losing season in 8 years, and who had five 20-win seasons in a row before his final season, when the Bulldogs went 15-15.

The first 2 years were dismal, but with this team, Adams is becoming more confident.

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“On any given night, we can be a very good team,” Adams said. “Certainly it feels better. Certainly a lot more people are pleased with what they say. . . . Each game is winnable, but certainly--knock on wood--the opposite is true.”

Granted, Fresno State’s success should be met with some skepticism. Among the 10 victories are wins over Pan American, U.S. International, New Hampshire and Southern Utah State.

On the other hand won close games against Utah State and Cal State Long Beach. Among the losses 6 points to Nevada Las Vegas, 3-point losses to New Mexico State and UC Irvine.

Like Adams, Fullerton’s Sneed is in a precarious position himself, trying to erase the first word from his title of acting coach. A decision will not come until the end of the season, which in effect is one long tryout.

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After the loss, Sneed said through a team spokesman that his players would not be allowed to talk to reporters, but stood by while Ceballos spoke.

“We couldn’t do anything,” Ceballos said. “They just killed us. We couldn’t run our offense. We weren’t ready to play.”

With the victory, Fresno State is 10-8 overall and 5-4 in Big West Conference play.

Fullerton fell to 8-9 and 3-5.

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