LUBBOCK, Tex. — Reviews of Cal State Fullerton's season opener here Friday night were mixed. So were the emotions of the Titan players, who were all quite aware that their coach was back in Southern California, mourning the death of his father.
Coach George McQuarn was in Compton Friday to deliver the eulogy for his father, Luther, who died Tuesday of a heart attack at the age of 83.
Assistant coach John Sneed ran the team in McQuarn's absence. He saw the Titans come within one basket of winning the game they had dedicated to their coach and his late father.
Guards Wendell Owens and Sean Gay combined for 38 points, and the Red Raiders held off a frantic Fullerton rally in the closing minutes for a 70-69 nonconference victory before 6,308 spectators.
After trailing by 10 points with 7:36 to play, Fullerton pulled within 68-67 on Richard Morton's three-point basket with 50 seconds remaining, but Gay answered with a six-foot shot in the lane to make it 70-67 with 37 seconds left.
Morton came up short on a three-point try that would have tied it with 14 seconds left. Titan guard Eugene Jackson was fouled while shooting a 17-footer with five seconds left and made both free throws, leaving Fullerton one point short. And that's the way it ended.
Junior forward Henry Turner led the Titans with 21 points, including 6 of 7 free throws in the final seven minutes.
Junior center Oval Miller had 10 points and 10 rebounds in a surprise starting role. Miller was a late replacement for senior Herman Webster, who was left out of Fullerton's starting lineup because he was late for the team bus to the airport Thursday. McQuarn was at Fullerton to see his team off and made the ruling on Webster.
Webster's punishment lasted about three minutes. But Texas Tech's pressure defense was rough on Webster and his teammates the rest of the way. Webster, who shot nearly 60% last season, made 2 of 8 shots against the Red Raiders.
The Titans made 24 of 56 shots for 42.9%.