FULLERTON, Calif. -- Cal State Fullerton overcame an eight-point halftime deficit and outscored Sacramento State, 38-22, in the second half on the way to a 59-51 victory over the Hornets in a non-conference men's basketball game Saturday afternoon at Titan Gym.
After shooting .444 (12-27) from the field in the first half, Sacramento State went ice cold in the second half, converting just seven field goals and shooting 25.0 percent (7-28) from the floor. That included being outrebounded, 25-15, after the break.
Fullerton opened the second half on a 13-2 run to take a 34-31 lead with 13:55 remaining in the contest. The Titans would never trail again the rest of the way as Sacramento State tied the score at 34-34, and 37-37, but could never get over the hump. After Fullerton extended its lead to a game-high nine points (51-42) with 3:08 left in the contest, Sacramento State's Mikh McKinney connected on three-point plays on back-to-back possessions to get the Hornets within three points (51-48) with 1:45 left in the contest.
The Titans would connect on three free throws over their next two possessions to lead, 54-48, with 1:17 remaining. The Hornets answered with a three-pointer from Dylan Garrity to close to within three points (54-51) with 1:10 left. However, despite it being a one-possession game with just under a minute remaining, the Hornets decided to foul Alex Harris while he was dribbling above the three-point line with 53 seconds left. That foul put the Titans in the double bonus and Harris connected on 1-of-2 free throws to make it a two-possession game and four-point lead (55-51) with 53 seconds left.
Sacramento State would not score the rest of the way as the Hornets missed their final four field goal attempts of the game. Harris would connect on four more free throws during the final 30 seconds to provide the final 59-51 outcome.
With the loss, Sacramento State dropped to 3-5 overall and 1-4 on the road. The Hornets and Titans have now split their 12 meetings since the series between the two teams began in 1960. Sacramento State has just one non-conference game remaining on the schedule and that will come next Sunday, Dec. 29, at home against UC Riverside at 2:05 p.m. The Hornets will play their first four Big Sky Conference games on the road, beginning on Jan. 2 at Montana State.
Fullerton, which has won three of its last four games, improved to 5-7 overall and 3-3 at home. This afternoon concluded a three-game homestand for the Titans.
Both teams finished with the same amount of makes from the field as Fullerton shot .422 (19-45) while the Hornets connected on .345 (19-55) of their opportunities. Sacramento State did knock down nine 3-pointers while shooting a respectable .391 (9-23) from beyond the arc, but could not overcome a 41-29 rebounding disparity and a sizeable disadvantage at the free throw line. Fullerton went to the free throw line 22 more times than the Hornets, connecting on 15-of-26 opportunities from the charity stripe while Sacramento State was 4-of-4. Perhaps even more amazingly, the Hornets were never in the bonus at any point during the entire contest.
Opponents have now gone to the free throw line 92 more times than the Hornets this season, or an average of 11.5 per game.
In addition, Sacramento State was limited to just four offensive rebounds and zero second-chance points. The Titans eld sizeable advantages in points in the paint (22-14), points off turnovers (12-2), second chance points (9-0) and points off the bench (26-7). Sacramento State did force Fullerton into 14 turnovers, but managed to convert those miscues into just two points.
For the Hornets, McKinney scored a game-high 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting from the field while also tallying three assists and two steals in 35 minutes. Garrity scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the 3-point line. The junior point guard did not commit a turnover in 35 minutes played, and now has just one turnover in his last 169 minutes played (spanning six games).
Zach Mills added six points, five rebounds and three assists in his second start of the season, and Cody Demps had six points before fouling out in just 22 minutes. Nick Hornsby added two points and a team-best six rebounds in 17 minutes while Jordan Salley had five rebounds.
The Titans were led by Harris who had 12 points and game highs in both rebounds (7) and assists (4). Ten of those points came in the second half. Michael Williams added 10 points and four rebounds, and Steve McClellan had eight points and six rebounds. The Titans were whistled for just 12 fouls the entire contest.
The Hornets' game against UC Riverside on the 29th will mark just the second home game the team will play during the entire month of December.