Men’s basketball rallies in second half

ROBERT HUSKEY / Daily Titan

ROBERT HUSKEY / Daily Titan

The Cal State Fullerton Titans men’s basketball team rallied back from an 11-point deficit at the end of the first half to defeat the UC Riverside Highlanders, 79-67, on the road Saturday night.

The Titans’ (12-11, 5-6 Big West Conference) senior forward Sammy Yeager scored 25 of his team-high 30 points in the second half to snap Fullerton’s three-game losing streak, almost outscoring the Highlanders (5-18, 2-9 Big West Conference) single-handedly as they were only able to score 27 points in the second half.

After controlling the game in the first half and shooting 54 percent from the floor for the game, Riverside had no answers for the Titan offense in the second half as Fullerton shot better than 65 percent in the second half after being held to under 35 percent shooting in the first half.

Highlander Chris Patton seemed to take over the game early by making his first eight consecutive baskets, and a pair of free throws early in the second period extended Riverside’s lead to 11 points, their biggest lead in the game. Patton finished with a game-high 36 points on 14-of-16 shots from the floor.

Yeager then went on the attack after the Titans fell back by 11 points, scoring 10 consecutive points for Fullerton to cut the deficit to five points. Titan senior D.J. Seeley then brought the game to three after a three-point play with 16:28 to play put the score at 45-42. Seeley finished the game with 21 points, 16 of those in the second half, to go with four rebounds and three assists.

Riverside had one last push as Patton went inside for the score to push their lead back to five but Titan senior Kwame Vaughn hit a jumper that propelled the Titans to a 9-0 run that pushed the Titans past the Highlanders and never let off the gas pedal.

Vaughn finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds and six assists while playing in all 40 minutes of the game.

Riverside tried to keep it close after a jumper by Patton put the Highlanders back up by one, 54-53, but Yeager put out any fire UCR had left with his fourth three-pointer of the second half to start another run as the Titans went up 64-57 with just over six minutes left to play.

Yeager went off to make 9-11 from the floor and 5-6 from beyond the arc in the second half to match his career-high against UC Santa Barbara back on Dec. 29, after being held to just 2-of-6 from the field and only five points in the first half.

Although the Highlanders outrebounded the Titans 30-24 on the night, they committed 13 turnovers that led to 25 big points for the Titans.

There was a moment of silence before the game as both teams came out wearing special warm- up shirts and wore orange ribbons in honor of CSUF assistant women’s basketball coach Monica Quan, who was tragically murdered with her fiancé one week ago.

The Titans will now travel to Long Beach State to take on the 49ers on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Two days later, the team travels to Irvine to take on the UCI Anteaters in a saturday evening game at 8 p.m.

For more information on the men’s basketball team and their upcoming schedule, visit FullertonTitans.com

About Sergio Gomez

Sergio is a freelance writer for the Daily Titan. If you’re interested in freelancing for the Daily Titan, contact dtcontent@gmail.com