If it wasn't already evident what sort of night it was going to be for Henry Turner, he made it emphatic with a reverse-dunk just more than 3 1/2 minutes into Cal State Fullerton's game against the University of San Diego Wednesday night.
It was going to be a good one.
Turner had scored the first nine Titan points of the game, and by the time the half was over he had scored 22, just four points less than his previous career high of 26.
He finished with 33, helping the Titans mightily to a nine-point halftime lead that held up for a 71-59 victory over the Toreros in front of 1,723 in Titan Gym.
"I'm really pleased with our win," said George McQuarn, Cal State Fullerton coach. "We're just struggling trying to get a win. We were happy to be able to keep a 10-, 12-point lead most of the way."
Turner put the Titans out to a 2-0 lead at the outset with a 16-foot jump shot. Then he followed a missed three-point attempt by Richard Morton with a leaning eight-foot jump shot. His next basket came after another offensive rebound. Then he made one of two free throws, and followed a minute later with the dunk off a fast-break pass from Marlon Vaughn.
All that in the first few minutes.
In addition to Turner, San Diego ran into another difficult opponent--the emerging Fullerton home-court mystique.
Fullerton is 0-4 on the road this season, but unbeaten in three games at home. The victory over San Diego was the closest game the Titans have played yet at home. The other two--against Portland and Utah--have been blowouts.
Turner did just about everything for the Titans Wednesday.
He made of 11 of 16 shots, including a three-pointer. He made 10 of 13 free throws, and completed three 3-point plays.
He scored a number of his points after offensive rebounds--he had five--and on the free throws.
In the three games since he returned after missing two games with an ankle injury, Turner has scored 76 points.
"The shot was just falling," Turner said. "I just hooked up."
Richard Morton added 22 for Fullerton, scoring 17 second-half points after struggling during the first half, in which he made only 2 of 12 shots.
Marty Munn led San Diego with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-4 from three-point range. Danny Means added 13.
San Diego (3-4) fell behind by 10 points with five minutes left in the first half when Turner completed a three-point play after being fouled by Munn. Fullerton went up by as many as 11 before taking a 33-24 lead at halftime.
San Diego, which was hampered by its 23 turnovers, was able to narrow the lead to five with about 10 minutes remaining. But Fullerton outscored the Toreros, 18-6, over the next six minutes to take a 65-48 lead and made enough free throws down the stretch to hold on easily.
The quicker Titans' man-to-man defense helped keep the Toreros at bay.
"Our defense was very good in spurts," McQuarn said. "I thought we played pretty good defense, considering our lack of depth."
Fullerton was playing without starting point guard Eugene Jackson for the second straight game and several players have been bothered by illness.
Hank Egan, San Diego coach, was disappointed in his team's turnovers.
"Fullerton is a good team," Egan said. "They have a lot of quickness, and we didn't play as efficiently as we needed to. We needed to handle the ball better."
Turner cooled in the second half, but Morton, the Titans' leading scorer, took over.
"Seeing that Turner had 22 of our 33 in the first half, that was frightening," said McQuarn. "We need some other people to score for us. I don't know how many games you can win with one or two people doing your scoring."
No other Titan was near double figures. Vaughn scored five, and Van Anderson and Vincent Blow each had four.
Fullerton did avoid serious foul trouble, which has hampered the Titans. Blow got four fouls, but he was the only one to receive that many.
Fullerton will take two days off for Christmas before returning to practice for a game against UCLA in Pauley Pavilion Monday.