NEW ORLEANS — Precisely when things got out of hand for Cal State Fullerton Saturday against the University of New Orleans was a bit difficult to tell. But rest assured that it was somewhere between the first half--in which the Titans managed only 12 field-goal attempts and three rebounds--and the final buzzer.
When it was over, New Orleans had coasted to an 80-57 victory in front of 1,710 in Lakefront Arena, and Fullerton had lost for the third time in four games this season.
Despite some dismal statistics in the first half, the Titans trailed by only nine at halftime and cut that lead to five early in the second half. But a little later in the game, things fell apart.
Or, as New Orleans Coach Art Tolis put it: "We weren't intimidated."
With New Orleans already leading, 70-42, Gabe Corchiani made a three-point shot from the left wing, and about 20 seconds later, Sam Jones made a steal, finishing it off with a dunk. Within less than a minute, Ledell Eackles took a fast-break pass from Jones and slammed home a reverse dunk that made it 77-42 with four minutes to play.
Fullerton did well in the final four minutes just to narrow that 35-point margin.
In Fullerton's defense, let it be said that on a night when the Titans were playing New Orleans, the court of Lakefront Arena was one of the more unlikely places to find a Titan forward.
Henry Turner, the Titans' best forward, was home in California, hobbled by a sprained ankle. Vincent Blow, a top reserve, was in a New Orleans hotel room, ill with the flu. And--after the first 10 minutes of the game--Bobby Adair, a starter, was on the Fullerton bench, ejected from the game.
Adair was involved in an altercation with New Orleans' Chris Trunk, and both were ejected. For New Orleans, it wasn't a bad trade--Trunk is only a reserve.
"Probably the best play of the game for us was Trunk getting in a fight," Tolis said. "(Adair) is a good player."
The result of all this was that Van Anderson, actually a guard, and Brent Calvin, a deep reserve still recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, were the Titan forwards. Add to that the trouble Fullerton has had at center all season, and the difficulty of the situation is evident.
Fullerton was outrebounded, 35-15, and allowed New Orleans more offensive rebounds (18) than the Titans totaled.
The brightest spot for Fullerton once again was the play of Richard Morton, who scored 34 points, making 11 of 16 shots, including 4 of 6 three-point attempts. No other Titan scored in double figures.
Jones scored 24 and Eackles had 21 for New Orleans (2-1), which plays at UC Irvine Monday.
"They dominated us in the paint the entire game," said George McQuarn, Fullerton coach. "In the second half, the shortage of personnel, the fatigue contributed to our inability. As the game progressed, their ability to substitute took its toll on us."
Four games into the season, Fullerton is still searching for an inside game.
Saturday, Miller started at center and finished with four points and two rebounds in 30 minutes. Sykes scored five points and had four rebounds in 24 minutes. Adair scored two points in his eight minutes. Neither Calvin nor Anderson, who has played well as Turner's fill-in, scored.
The Titans have a week off before playing Utah at home Saturday, and McQuarn said Turner, who injured his right ankle last week in a loss to Weber State, may return by then.
"We just have to keep everything in perspective and hope it gets better," McQuarn said.
Fullerton was still in the game at halftime despite 15 turnovers and going more than nine minutes without a field goal.
The Titans narrowed the lead to five points in the first two minutes of the second half on two baskets by Eugene Jackson and a three-pointer by Morton. But New Orleans made a 17-6 run to take a 16-point lead with 12 minutes remaining.
"In order for us to play with New Orleans we needed to play 40 minutes," McQuarn said. "At the half, down by nine, we were exactly where I wanted to be. But in the second half, we were fatigued and they started releasing people and we weren't rebounding. . . . They got completely away from us."
For New Orleans, coming off a 111-94 loss to Bradley, this game was far easier than anticipated.
"I was very concerned about Fullerton," Tolis said. "They play a much tougher schedule. They have a lot more tradition. They're used to going on the road and playing before big crowds. I had to make our team understand how hard we had to play. . . . This was a big difference over Bradley, wasn't it? But this wasn't Bradley."