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Defenses Reign, but Titans Don't

January 05, 1988|ROBYN NORWOOD | Times Staff Writer

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The coaches, naturally, pointed to deliberate play and good defense, and there was plenty of each.

But New Mexico State and Cal State Fullerton didn't score 80 points between them Monday night in the Aggies' 41-37 Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. victory in front of 5,132 in Pan American Center. And it wasn't all because New Mexico State had learned its box-and-one defense well.

The Titans, in losing their seventh road game in seven tries, shot only 36.4%. New Mexico State did somewhat better, finishing at 44.4% after approaching 50% in the second half.

"Both teams played far, far better defensively than offensively," Titan Coach George McQuarn said.

Fullerton (4-7, 0-2 in the league) had not scored so few points since the Titans set a school-record in 1981 in a 51-30 loss to Fresno State. For New Mexico State, it had been even longer--since a 48-41 loss to Texas El Paso in 1974.

New Mexico State, (8-6,1-1) opened in a zone box-and-one defense to try to defend Richard Morton, whose 25-point scoring average leads the Titans. It worked--partly because of Jeff Williams' man-to-man job on Morton, partly because of Morton's 4-for-11 shooting performance and partly because the Titan offense was unable to take advantage at other positions.

The Aggies even abandoned the defense at times in the game, playing a matchup zone and some man-to-man, but it didn't make much difference. In the end, Morton, who had scored 18 or more points in his past 22 games, finished with only 10.

"I was frustrated," Morton said. "It was a good box-and-one, and we didn't have the guys to pick up the slack.

Henry Turner scored only 8 points on 4-of-14 shooting, failing to reach double-figures for the second straight game. Turner scored just 6 in a loss to Cal State Long Beach Saturday when he played much of the game in foul trouble.

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