Cal State Fullerton looks to continue spoiler role against Duke in NCAA tournament

Cal State Fullerton celebrates an NCAA college basketball game against Long Beach State.
Cal State Fullerton celebrates after defeating Long Beach State in the Big West Conference tournament championship game Saturday.
(Ronda Churchill / Associated Press)

Cal State Fullerton knocked off its rival on the way to the NCAA tournament. Now the Titans get a chance to end Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching career.

Fresh off a Big West tournament championship, the Titans learned their postseason fate Sunday, earning a No. 15 seed in the West Region to play No. 2 seed Duke in Greenville, S.C., in the first round at 4:10 p.m. PDT on Friday. The Blue Devils, who lost to Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament final, are playing to extend Kryzyzewski’s career as the longtime coach inches toward retirement.

Fullerton (21-10) earned its second NCAA tournament appearance in five years with a one-point victory over Long Beach State in the Big West championship game Saturday.


The Titans, who were picked to finish seventh in the Big West by the conference coaches, celebrated their fourth NCAA tournament berth in school history at a public selection show party Sunday. Players tied pieces of the championship net into their Big West champion hats and snapped photos of television screens when the bracket revealed their postseason destination.

Fullerton has not won an NCAA tournament game since an Elite Eight run in 1978, getting knocked out in the first round in 2008 and 2018.

Senior forward E.J. Anosike leads the Titans with 16.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He led Fullerton’s comeback victory over Long Beach State with 12 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Fullerton rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit to knock off the regular-season conference champions and send Long Beach State to the NIT to face No. 2 seed Brigham Young in the first round.

The Beach, led by Big West player of the year Colin Slater, were trying to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2012. Slater had 23 points and four assists in the Big West championship game, but the point guard couldn’t orchestrate a game-winning shot attempt on the game’s final possession with Fullerton leading by one.

UCLA received a No. 4 seed and will start its push to return to the Final Four in Portland while USC is a No. 7 seed and Cal State Fullerton is No. 15.

March 13, 2022

Long Beach State will make its first postseason tournament appearance since 2016. After five consecutive losing seasons, the Beach were picked to finish eighth in the conference by Big West coaches. Instead, they put together their third 20-win season under coach Dan Monson, who was named conference coach of the year.

For the first time, the NCAA released the women’s tournament field on the same day as the men’s bracket, which meant UCLA, under coach Cori Close, didn’t have to hold its breath on the bubble for long.

After finishing seventh in the Pac-12 and 14-12 overall, the Bruins did not make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.


With key wins over NCAA tournament-bound Washington State (19-10) and Arizona (20-7), UCLA was considered among the first teams out of the NCAA field. The Bruins will instead settle for the WNIT, which they won in 2015.

A first look at the NCAA tournament bracket and breaking down UCLA and USC’s first-round opponents.

March 13, 2022

UCLA was 41st in the final NCAA Net rankings after losing to Oregon in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament and is in line to host its first-round WNIT matchup.

UC Irvine is also bound for the 64-team WNIT after falling short in the Big West tournament championship game for the second straight season. The Anteaters (21-11) were looking for their second NCAA tournament appearance in school history and first since 1995 but will play in their second WNIT appearance. Irvine previously played in the postseason tournament in 2018, losing to Nevada in the first round.

Draws for the WNIT will be released Monday with first-round games beginning Wednesday.