Houston Beats CS Fullerton, 83-67, for Eighth in Row
A week ago, Cal State Fullerton players stood proud in Pauley Pavilion after nearly upsetting the second-ranked Bruins. But Monday night, the Titans were humbled by unranked Houston, 83-67, before 4,162 in Hofheinz Pavilion.
Five players scored in double figures for Houston, which took a 15-point lead in the first half and never led by fewer than 10 during the second.
But it was the Cougar defense and the Titans’ lack of defense that were the key factors in the game.
Houston’s man-to-man defense stifled Fullerton during the first half, its full-court press caused several key turnovers that led to easy baskets, and its match-up zone gave the Titans fits during the second half.
The Cougars, who have won eight in a row and improved to 9-1, held leading Titan scorer Joe Small to a personal-worst seven points on two-of-11 shooting. Even with forward Agee Ward making 12 of 18 shots and scoring 24 points, Fullerton (4-5) shot 44.3% (27 of 61) from the field.
“Joe never got on track,” Titan Coach John Sneed said.
With the Titans keying defensively on Houston’s front line, point guard Darrick Daniels made two three-pointers in the first seven minutes that helped the Cougars take a 15-6 lead. Houston made seven of 20 three-pointers and had four other three-point plays.
The Titans went back to a man-to-man defense midway through the second half, but that did little to slow the Cougars, who posted up for inside baskets and powered their way to several follow baskets.
Forward Craig Upchurch led Houston with 14 points, Daniels added 13, Sam Mack had 12, and David Diaz and Derrick Smith each had 11.
“They hurt us several ways with several players,” Sneed said.
“They have so many weapons, and they’re so strong that every kid they put on the floor is a threat. There’s not a weak link out there. I’m surprised they’re not in the top 25. They’re an excellent team.”