GAME NOTES: The Cal State Fullerton Titans look to stay hot as they host the UC Riverside Highlanders for a Big West Conference tilt on Saturday.
The incoming Highlanders lost their third game in four outings on Sunday as they were downed, 76-61, by Hawaii. The setback dropped UC Riverside to a disappointing 4-11 overall record including its 1-2 standing in the Big West. The Highlanders have failed to pick up wins this season due to their lack of scoring power, as they are last in the conference at 57.9 points per game on a mere 39.8 percent shooting from the field.
The Titans have been nearly unstoppable since their lackadaisical 3-5 start to the season. They picked up their sixth win in seven appearances on Wednesday when they cruised to a 74-62 decision over Cal State Bakersfield. Fullerton enters its bout against UC Riverside with one of the most high-powered offenses in the nation at 85.6 points per game overall courtesy of 50.4 percent shooting from the field, including a 41.9 percent mark from beyond the arc.
The Titans lead the all-time series with the Highlanders, 24-17, sweeping the regular season series between the two Golden State schools last year by the scores of 72-61 at home and 77-64 in Riverside.
Coach Jim Wooldridge had an unprepared group on his hands when UC Riverside visited Hawaii last week. The Highlanders shot just 31 percent from the field and missed all nine of their 3-point attempts in the first half, allowing the Warriors to build a 40-21 advantage on the scoreboard by the intermission. UC Riverside played much better after the break and won the second half by four points, but the Warriors converted 10-of-12 at the charity stripe to coast to the 15-point decision. Josh Fox scored a team-high of 12 points to go along with six rebounds while Tre Owens and Dayton Boddie contributed 10 points each off the bench. The low production on the offensive end has yielded just two double-digit scorers in Chris Patton (10.6 ppg) and Chris Harriel (10.4 ppg).
The Titans could not reach their normal scoring average last time out, but they still converted 53 percent of their field goals and forced the Roadrunners into 24 turnovers. Sammy Yeager scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the way while Kwame Vaughn racked up 14 points and eight assists. Fullerton provides its opposition with the impossible task of containing its terrific trio. Vaughn and D.J. Seeley are neck and neck for the team's scoring lead with 19.3 and 19.2 points per game, respectively. Yeager is also chiming in 15 points per contest and converting 47.6 percent from beyond the arc to make double teaming Vaughn or Seeley a risky move.
The Titans hold the upperhand versus UC Riverside, especially in their own gym. Vaughn and Seeley rank first and second on the Big West's scoring leaderboard and Fullerton has a few solid role players to back up its stars. The Highlanders will need someone to emerge and submit a surprising and spectacular performance to avoid yet another defeat.
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