Stockton, Calif. - Despite a career night from sophomore Ray Bowles, the Tigers could not hold on for the win in their home opener at the Alex G. Spanos Center as Cal State Fullerton snatched the victory in the final seconds of the contest to win, 77-76, on Tuesday night. The Titans (1-1) scored with just :13 seconds remaining in the game to steal their first victory of the year while the Tigers (0-2) dropped their second-straight contest to open the year.
In the loss, Bowles came up with 22 points and 10 rebounds, both career best marks, to post his first career double-double and the Tigers' first double-double since T.J. Wallace (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Eric Thompson (10 points, 11 rebounds) posted a pair at Portland on Jan. 22, 2015.
After a quick foul in the post gave the Titans a pair of free throws to start the game, the Tigers went on a 9-0 run, kick started by a three from the left angle from junior David Taylor. Two minutes later, the Tigers would put together another run, this time scoring 10 unanswered points as the Titans went through a five-minute drought that allowed the Tigers to push their lead to double digits. Fullerton's Malcolm Brooks would end the string of misses with a floater from the elbow, but the basket only cut Pacific's lead to 10 as Pacific led 19-9.
With the basket lid pulled off, the Titans began to find their range from distance, knocking down three-straight three's to cut Pacific's led to just six. Despite the shooting by the Titans, the Tigers were able to hang onto their lead as sophomore Maleke Haynes knocked down a three of his own. Additionally, mounting foul trouble for Fullerton put Pacific on the line, culminating with an and-one chance for sophomore Jacob Lampkin with just over 8:30 to play in the half that pushed the lead back to double-digits
The play by Lampkin was part of another Tiger streak offensively, scoring seven-straight to lead by as much as 13 with 7:09 to play. The Tigers would hold their double-digit lead behind hustle plays out of their freshman Anthony Townes as the Modesto native came up with a pair of offensive rebounds and a put back while beating the Titans to a loose ball on the floor just before the 4-minute media.
The Titans would finally break the Tigers' double-digit advantage at the 2:00 minute mark in the half before cutting the Pacific lead to just six thanks in large part to a 6-0 run and a stretch in which they hit six-consecutive field goals. They would finish 6-for-8 to close out the half as Pacific would take a six-point advantage into the break.
With six quick points in the first two minutes of the second half, the Tigers extended their lead to double digits once again, using a pair of plays at the rim and a pair of midrange jumpers from Lampkin. The double-digits would be short-lived, however, as the Titans used the three-ball to shoot their way back into the game, scoring 10-straight in under two minutes to cut the lead to just one at 53-52 at the 14:00 minute mark.
After leading for over 26 minutes, the Tigers would finally see their cushion disappear when Lionhearted Leslie hit 1-of-2 from the line to tie the game at 53-53 with 13:21 to play. Despite the surge by the Titans, the Tigers would not be denied as Bowles hit back-to-back three-pointers to snap a four-minute scoreless streak before Wallace threw down a breakaway dunk to push Pacific back ahead by eight at 61-53.
Again, the Titans would respond, with a run of their own, going on their second 10-0 run of the half to take their first lead since the opening seconds with a three-ball from Tre' Coggins with just under 9:30 to play in the game. An old fashion three-point play by Wallace stopped the bleeding for the Tigers as the junior muscled his way into the paint and finished with the right hand before hitting the free throw. Two more Tiger free throws helped Pacific go up back up by five with just over five to play.
With the game hanging in the balance and tied at 70-70 with 3:30 to play, one of the Tigers' newest players came up with what looked like one of the biggest shots of the night as Tonko Vuko hit a step back three from right in front of the Tigers' bench to put Pacific up three. Bowles would follow with a layup and an and-one as Pacific jumped ahead by six.
The lead would not be enough as the Tigers went scoreless over the final three minutes of the game, allowing the Titans to steal the game with a layup from Leslie with :13 seconds remaining to take a one-point lead at 77-76. Pacific's desperation heave by Wallace as time expired would come up frustratingly short.
In all, Bowles' 22 points led all scorers as the Tigers' put four in double figures in the loss. Behind Bowles, Wallace finished his night with 14 points while Lampkin and Taylor each added 11. Lampkin came up with eight rebounds while Vuko chipped in eight more to go with eight points. The Tigers held a 41-33 edge on the boards in the game while the Titans outshot Pacific, 44.4%-to-43.3%.
The Titans were led by \Coggins' 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting while two other Titans hit double-digits as Lanerryl Johnson scored 12 while Brooks finished with 10.
The loss was Pacific's first to the Titans in the last three meetings and just the 11th win for Cal State Fullerton in Stockton in 42 games sincea 43-39 Titan win on Jan. 6, 2011.
In total, the Titans held the lead for just :47 seconds in the game while Pacific led for 35:25.
Pacific is back in action on Saturday, Nov. 21 when the Tigers host Nevada at 7:00 pm from the Spanos Center.