Struggling Titans Discover They're In Over Their Heads

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cal State Fullerton got a look at one of Big West basketball's top teams Wednesday night, and the Titans learned quickly that a game against Long Beach State is decided above the rim.

"They really have great leaping ability," Fullerton guard Chris Dade said.

Long Beach State had a 40-23 rebounding advantage on the way to a 79-66 victory in the Pyramid. Even 52.4% shooting from the field, the Fullerton's second best effort of the season, couldn't save the Titans (2-10).

"We have to be closer to a team in rebounding than that," Coach Bob Hawking said.

The Titans shot 68.4% in the first half, but they had to do that just to stay close. Fullerton still trailed, 38-35, at the intermission.

Dade saw Long Beach as a stronger team than a year ago when the 49ers won the Big West postseason tournament. "I think they're definitely stronger," Dade said. "They're very athletic and physical. But it also was a game we definitely let get away from us in the second half."

Dade had 16 points, making five of 10 from the field and five of eight free throws. He has scored 71 points in the past five games.

Despite Fullerton's third loss in four conference games, both Dade and freshman point guard Kenroy Jarrett said the team is continuing to improve, as both of them have lately.

"We need to learn how to keep on beating on people," said Jarrett, who had was four of five from the field and three for three on three-point shots in an 11-point night. "We didn't do that at the start of the second half."

Fullerton was outscored, 11-2, at the start of second half.

Both Dade and Jarrett said they believe the Titans are playing better now than they were earlier in the season.

"I know I just need to see more Division I players," Jarrett said. "But I'm feeling a lot more comfortable now than I did early in the season. I knew when I came here that I'd be challenged, and it's been a challenge."

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