SAN JOSE — No, it wasn't the flu.
Cal State Fullerton Coach George McQuarn has grown sick and tired of telling people how sick and tired his team is, and he said Saturday that coughs and fevers no longer will be offered as excuses for Fullerton's shortcomings.
Aside from a few sniffles, the players Cal State Fullerton won with in December are generally healthy. So, McQuarn wasn't about to point to his players' medical charts after Saturday's 62-53 Pacific Coast Athletic. Assn. loss to San Jose State before 1,491 fans at the San Jose Civic Auditorium.
"You're not going to hear me talk about that for the rest of the year," McQuarn said. "That stuff's behind us."
What is still staring the Titans squarely in the face, however, is a six-game losing streak and the fact that if the PCAA's postseason tournament were to begin tomorrow, they would have to buy tickets to get in.
A month ago, when the Titans were 7-1, a few folks around Fullerton were contemplating the number of victories it would take to get an invitation to the NCAA tournament. Now, the Titans will have to scramble not to finish last in the PCAA. Saturday's loss, their seventh in the last eight games, drops them to 1-6 in conference play, 8-8 overall.
Junior forward Reggie Owens had 16 points, 9 rebounds and made 7 of 8 shots from the field to lead San Jose State (5-3, 9-8). The Spartans took the lead late in the first half and never let it go. Fullerton made a token run at them, cutting a 16-point lead to six at 52-46 with 4:43 to play, but could get no closer.
Ricky Berry hit a baseline jump shot and free throw to extend the Spartans' lead to 55-46 with 4:10 to play, immediately draining the Titans of whatever momentum they seemed to be building during a 12-2 scoring spurt.
"If we could have kept them from scoring and cut it to four, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened in those last four minutes," McQuarn said. "Instead, they get a three-point play."
Berry, who scored 31 points Thursday night against UC Santa Barbara, had only one point in the first half and finished with 11. But Owens, a bruising power forward better known for his rebounding, compensated with a scoring performance that included some rather uncharacteristic, long-range jumpers.