Frenchman Adds Zest to San Jose State; Titans Fall


Cal State Fullerton and San Jose State have been similar basketball teams this season, but the difference between them Tuesday night came down to the play of 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Olivier Saint-Jean and some sparkling free-throw shooting by the Spartans.

Saint-Jean, playing in only his fourth game with the Spartans after becoming eligible in late December, scored 25 points in leading San Jose State to an 88-77 victory over Fullerton in the teams’ Big West Conference opener before 757 in Titan Gym.

The Spartans made 25 of 29 free throws and shot a season-high 51.7% from the field.

The outcome left San Jose State 2-7, Fullerton 1-8. It was Fullerton’s sixth consecutive loss.


Saint-Jean is a native of France who played his freshman season and four games last year at Michigan before transferring to San Jose State before the spring semester. He said he was seeking “an atmosphere to better develop his skills.”

“It was not a matter of unhappiness,” said Saint-Jean. “It was more a matter of not feeling I had the skills to compete at that level. I wanted to go to a smaller school with a different atmosphere.”

The Spartans had four others in double figures. Tito Addison had a season-high 14 points and Sam Allen, Roy Hammonds and Marmet Williams each had 12.

John Williams had 21 points and Chuck Overton 20 for Fullerton, but the Titans couldn’t overcome their 24 turnovers and San Jose State’s solid shooting. The Titans shot 44.6% from the field and made 18 of 27 free throws.

Both teams came into the game shooting less than 40% from the field. San Jose State Coach Stan Morrison called it a game between “a pair of struggling teams who struggled.”

Fullerton Coach Bob Hawking said his team made a good effort, but was hurt by the turnovers.


“That’s 24 times you don’t have a chance to shoot the ball,” Hawking said. “It seemed like we were completely out of sync at times offensively.”

Fullerton made only one of 14 shots from three-point range while San Jose State was three of seven. The Titans had a 36-32 rebounding advantage. “But we felt we had to do that to stay with them,” Hawking said.

Hawking also pointed to Saint-Jean’s performance. “He’s a good player and definitely a key to their success,” he said.

Morrison said his team has grown stronger with Saint-Jean in the lineup, but is still adjusting.

“I thought the defense was a big key to the game for us,” Morrison said. “We’re struggling to get in sync offensively. Saint-Jean is going to be a very good player for us, but it’s going to take some time for us to get it all together.”

San Jose shot 51.5% in the first half and went up by 11 points, 31-20, before Fullerton came back to cut the deficit to 38-32 at halftime, primarily on Overton’s 13 first-half points.


The Spartans had the upper hand through the early stages of the second half, but the Titans went from an 11-point deficit to close the gap to 64-61 on a three-point play by reserve center Dirk Rassloff and a jump shot from outside by Ali Nayab.

Fullerton, however, could never get over the three-point hump. The Titans trailed by five points with about four minutes left, but Nayab missed two three-point shots.