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Titans Find No Cure for What Ails Them on Road, Lose 57-54

February 26, 1988|ROBYN NORWOOD | Times Staff Writer

FRESNO — It began in Missoula, Mont., and continued in Ogden, Utah, and New Orleans, in Malibu and Westwood, in Long Beach and Las Cruces, N.M., in Logan, Utah, and in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Irvine, and Las Vegas.

And now here. Mark Cal State Fullerton 0-13 on the road, after a 57-54 loss to Fresno State in Selland Arena that left Coach George McQuarn unable to say one thing good about his team--not one thing.

"We played about as bad as we could play," McQuarn said. "We could not play any worse."

Fresno State had a 10-point lead with 1:22 remaining, but although it dwindled, Fullerton never threatened to win.

The Titans are down to one remaining chance to win a road game.

Saturday, Fullerton plays at University of the Pacific, which will be out to stop a streak itself. The Tigers are the only Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. team that has yet to win a conference game.

"If we play the way we played tonight we'll get our butts kicked by Pacific," McQuarn said.

Fullerton (8-16, 4-11) had beaten Fresno State in an overtime game in the teams' first meeting this season. With the Bulldogs missing two starters because of injuries--former Mater Dei star Mike Mitchell and guard Andre Sims--this appeared to be a good opportunity for the Titans.

But Richard Morton and Henry Turner, the Titans' leading scorers, both struggled.

Morton scored just 8 points, making 3 of 14 shots, and scored fewer than 10 points for only the second time in his past 40 games.

Turner, who was averaging 20.6 points a game at home but only 12.8 on the road, scored 14.

Fullerton took 55 shots against Fresno State, but made only 18--33%.

That's the sort of statistic Fullerton has produced on the road all season. In home games, the Titans were averaging 50% from the field, but on the road, only 43%. And Fullerton's opponents are making 53% of their shots in their own arenas, compared to 46% in Titan Gym.

Most teams, of course, play a bit better in their own arenas--in front of their own fans and in familiar surroundings--than on the road. Fullerton just seems to do that more extremely. But as McQuarn points out, when a team has won only eight games all season, the victories are likely to have come at home.

The loss also diminishes Fullerton's chances of reaching 10 victories in the regular season. The Titans now need two victories in their final three games. Two of those teams--New Mexico State and Cal State Long Beach--beat Fullerton in the first meeting this season.

The Titans started out well against Fresno State, as Morton made his first two shots--both three-pointers. But Morton only scored two more points the rest of the game. Fresno State took a 27-21 halftime lead and led by as many as 11 in the second half.

Leo Walker, one of two players starting in place of injured players for Fresno State, scored a career-high 19 points, including 3 of 3 three-pointers, to lead the Bulldogs (9-25, 6-9).

Fresno State Coach Ron Adams credited his team's defense, but McQuarn took little stock in that.

"Our problem is ourselves, in terms of playing on the road," McQuarn said. "We haven't been able to get anything going on the road, and this was probably the worst of any road game in the conference we've played this year."

McQuarn assesses part of the difficulty to the team's personality.

"We're an outer-directed team. We need the crowd and that kind of thing to get us going."

Turner, in particular, with his propensity for spectacular, game-breaking dunks, is one of the players McQuarn points to as "outer-directed."

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