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Fullerton Works Overtime to Beat Pepperdine

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Fullerton squandered a 14-point lead in the second half, but Joe Small and Wayne Williams scored four points each in overtime to lift the Titans to a 69-66 nonconference victory over Pepperdine Saturday night before 1,729 at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.

Small scored a game-high 27 points as the Titans (3-2) won their third consecutive game. Pepperdine dropped to 4-2.

Fullerton led by as many as nine points in the first half before settling for a 34-28 lead at intermission. The Titans extended their lead to 46-32 early in the second half before Pepperdine made a game of it.

The Waves, who were led by 18 points and 11 rebounds from forward Geoff Lear, went on a 15-2 run, capped by a pair of free throws by Damin Lopez, to take a 49-48 lead.

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Small made consecutive three-point baskets as Fullerton regained the lead. The Titans appeared headed for a victory in regulation, but Lear converted two free throws to bring the Waves to within 61-59. He added a basket off an offensive rebound to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, Williams made four free throws and Small added a basket and two free throws to offset a three-point basket by Rick Welch and two free throws by Doug Christie. A half-court shot by Pepperdine’s Steve Guild fell short at the buzzer.

Pepperdine shot 34.4% from the field and only 69% from the foul line. Wave Coach Tom Asbury found fault with more than his team’s shooting.

“What didn’t we do poorly tonight?,” Asbury said. “I was not very pleased with our post defense or our rebounding.

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“But as poorly as we played, we had plenty of chances.”

He was right about plenty of chances for Pepperdine, but Small took better advantage of his.

Small made 11 of 20 field-goal attempts, including three of seven from three-point range. He scored 10 points in the first half before reappearing late in the game to pace Fullerton.

“It was a tight game, and it got kind of fun,” Small said. “One of us had to step up, and I thought why not me?”

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In the first half, Pepperdine had trouble penetrating, didn’t shoot well (34.5%) and couldn’t stop Aaron Wilhite inside or Small outside.

Wilhite, who finished with 14 points, scored 12 points in the first nine minutes.

Christie led Pepperdine with nine first-half points, and Lear had seven points and six rebounds.

The Waves, who were making only 58.5% of their free throws before the game, made seven of 12 in the first half.

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