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Titans Pull Out 62-61 Victory : Basketball: Winston Peterson’s free throw with three seconds left makes the difference against UC Santa Barbara.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Fullerton still has UC Santa Barbara’s number, and give Winston Peterson credit for keeping it that way.

Peterson rolled in a clutch free throw with three seconds left to give the Titans a 62-61 Big West victory over the Gauchos Thursday night in Titan Gym.

Peterson scored 19 points to go with 10 rebounds and sparked the Titans to their fifth consecutive victory over Santa Barbara.

No rebound was as big, however, as the one he pulled down when the Gauchos’ Tecon Madden missed a jump shot inside the key in the final seconds. Peterson was fouled by Santa Barbara center Doug Muse when they went for the ball.

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Peterson hit the first free throw and missed the second, but he also rebounded the miss and time ran out. The victory lifted Fullerton (6-10) to 4-4 in the Big West; Santa Barbara (9-6) fell to 4-3 in the conference.

“I guess that’s characteristic of Winston’s two years here,” Fullerton Coach Bob Hawking said. “He’s made some big plays. I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone in the Big West that he makes the play to win the game.”

Guard James French had 14 points for the Titans, 12 of them in the first half. Peterson scored 11 of his points in the second half.

The Gauchos, who surprised Big West preseason favorite New Mexico State at home early in the season, came into the game against Cal State Fullerton with four consecutive road losses.

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“This is a game we should have won, but didn’t,” Santa Barbara Coach Jerry Pimm said. “We just didn’t make the plays at the end.”

Santa Barbara scored only three points in the final nine minutes after building a 12-point lead at 58-46 with 9:36 left. Pimm also was upset about his team’s 21 turnovers. The Titans had only 14, which also turned out to be an important factor.

“We made way too many errors and our defense was not up to what it should be,” Pimm said.

The Gauchos still led, 61-59, with 1:34 remaining but faded at the finish. A key steal by Chuck Overton and his driving dunk with 28 seconds left gave the Titans a 61-61 tie.

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Overton, who usually is a starter, sat out almost all the first half and played only seven minutes because he was ill with the flu. But he came up with the big defensive play at crunch time. David Frigout, the Titans tallest player at 6-9, also was ill with the flu and didn’t suit up for the game.

Hawking was happy that the Gaucho rebounding advantage wasn’t bigger than it was. Santa Barbara had a 33-31 edge. The Titans won despite shooting only 25% in the second half. Fullerton finished with 41.8% for the game compared to 48% from the field for the Gauchos.

Fullerton settled for a 40-38 halftime lead. Both teams shot well from the floor in the first half, Santa Barbara hitting 62.5% and Fullerton 54.8%, but both fell off that pace considerably after halftime.


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