Titans Deal Grgurich an Upset


It was supposed to be a big homecoming celebration for Nevada Las Vegas Coach Tim Grgurich, but it turned out to be a night for Cal State Fullerton and Chris St. Clair.

St. Clair hit a three-point jump shot from the side with eight seconds left to lift the Titans to an 82-80, come-from-behind victory over the Rebels on Saturday night.

Fullerton, picked to finish last in the Big West Conference, spoiled the home debut of Grgurich by turning in a gutsy performance under pressure late in the second half.


Fullerton (2-3) has won three of the last four games against UNLV (0-3).

Fullerton surprised UNLV, 84-75, at the Thomas & Mack Center last season for one of its eight regular-season victories. It was one of five defeats the Rebels suffered at home in a 15-13 season under Rollie Massimino, who was forced to take a $1.8-million buyout in October after a secret supplemental contract came to light. That brought Grgurich back to the school where he served for 12 years as an assistant to Jerry Tarkanian, who was courtside for the first time since his firing.

But it was Titan Coach Bob Hawking who was able to do the celebrating this time.

The Titans were down by 11 points with less than 12 minutes remaining and they still looked as if they were in trouble, trailing, 80-77, with 1:31 left after David Frigout missed two free throws. UNLV gained control, but Reggie Manuel missed and the Titans closed the gap to 80-79 on center Winston Peterson’s layup.

The Titans got another break when Manuel was called for traveling in a scramble for a loose ball. That set the stage for St. Clair’s winning shot.

“The kids really played hard and this was a big win for our program,” Hawking said. “They were really focused on what we were trying to do. Last week week we wilted under UCLA’s pressure in the second half, but we kept telling our kids to hang in there and they were able to deal with UNLV’s run this time and stay close. If you hang in there until the end, anything can happen.”

Hawking said St. Clair’s shot was one the Titans were looking for.

“Chris is our money player in terms of being our perimeter shooter,” Hawking said. “ We were working to get that kind of shot at the end.”

St. Clair wasn’t surprised the ball came to him on a pass from guard James French.

“I saw James penetrate and when I saw him leave his feet, I realized that he would pass the ball to me. I just spotted up and felt confident. It was about like everything was in slow motion.”


Peterson also had another big night, scoring 25 points to lead the Titans. Peterson connected on 10 of 14 shots from the field and had seven rebounds. St. Clair had 17 points and was five for nine from the field. Chris Dade also had 16 points.

Manuel’s 26 points were high for the Rebels, who shot 38.1% from the field in the first half. The Rebels wound up hitting 53.3% for the game; the Titans shot 47.5%.

The Titans got off to a good start and led through most of the first half.

A string of 11 consecutive points put Fullerton ahead, 19-9, but the Rebels trimmed the deficit to 22-21. Fullerton managed to turn back that rush to hold on for a 39-36 halftime lead.

The Titans were six points ahead with just a few seconds remaining in the first half, but reserve John Williams fouled Clayton Johnson on a long-range three-point attempt and Johnson made all three free throws with no time left on the clock.

UNLV came out strong at the start of the second half. The Rebels outscored the Titans, 16-8, and Manuel’s three-point jump shot from the corner gave UNLV a 52-47 lead. Another Manuel three-pointer made it 63-51 and the Rebels held a 67-57 command with just more than 10 minutes left.