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Fullerton Backs Into Big West Tournament

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Cal State Fullerton guard Kenroy Jarrett had tears in his eyes as he walked off the floor at Titan Gym on Saturday night after the Titans’ 80-75 loss to UC Santa Barbara.

But only a couple of minutes later, Jarrett learned that UC Irvine had beaten Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, giving the Titans the final berth in this week’s Big West Conference tournament at Reno.

“I wasn’t sure whether to smile or not right then,” Jarrett said. “But I’m happy now that we’re going to the tournament. It’s a whole new game there.”

It was that kind of bittersweet night for the Titans.

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“Is this the back door?” Titan assistant Todd Johnson said as he walked into the locker room, an obvious reference to the fact that the Titans had to have help from a neighborhood rival that had lost 14 consecutive games.

But back door or not, the Titans will move on to Reno, where they will play Boise State, the No. 1-seeded team from the Eastern Division, in Thursday’s first round.

Santa Barbara, 14-12 overall and 12-4 in the Big West, made 56% of its shots and got strong performances from Josh Merrill and B.J. Bunton to turn back a Fullerton charge in the second half. Merrill scored 23 points, Bunton 22.

Jason Cunningham led Fullerton (13-13, 7-9) with 20 points.

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