Nothing has come easily for Cal State Fullerton's basketball team this season, but Thursday night the Titans suffered a critical setback, losing to the University of Pacific, 85-77, in overtime before 1,627 fans at Titan Gym.
The defeat meant that Fullerton must beat UC Irvine Saturday in the regular-season finale to qualify for the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. tournament. If the Titans (14-15 overall and 7-10 in the conference) lose, they'll miss the postseason event no matter what Utah State and UC Santa Barbara (both with 7-10 conference records) do in their last games, because both hold tiebreaker advantages over Fullerton.
Pacific (15-13, 8-9) gained a spot in the tournament with its victory.
The Titans appeared to have clinched the game and a spot in the tournament when they went ahead, 63-56, with 2:47 remaining in regulation. But UOP forward Rich Anema, who finished with a career-high 42 points, hit two straight three-pointers to close the gap to one (63-62) with 1:40 left.
Fullerton's Kevin Henderson and Richard Morton each made a pair of free throws sandwiched around a free throw by Pacific's Drew Rodgers to put the Titans up, 67-63, with 24 seconds left in regulation. Christian Gray scored on a layup for the Tigers with 11 seconds left, but Herman Webster put Fullerton ahead by three (68-65), making one of two free throws with seven seconds remaining.