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Titans See Improvement Despite Loss to Bruins

November 29, 1995|LON EUBANKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ANGELES — It probably was not the best night for Cal State Fullerton to be playing at UCLA. The ushers in Pauley Pavilion were wearing tuxedos, and the school's 11th NCAA basketball championship banner was raised in some fan-rousing pregame hoopla.

The Titans, however, gave little notice to championships past and out-hustled the defending national champions for a one-point halftime lead. But UCLA came back strong in the second half to win, 79-63, Tuesday night.

"UCLA did a good of reading what their strength was against us at halftime," Fullerton guard Chris St. Clair said. "Their strength was down low and they hurt us a lot with that in the second half. It was a lot tougher for us in the second half."

Coach Bob Hawking agreed.

"The real key was the size difference between the two teams," Hawking said. "They were able to pound the ball inside on us. We were pretty much out-manned, although we were able to hang in there for a while. They have a fine array of talent."

UCLA, troubled by 11 turnovers in the first half, took better care of the basketball in the second half and made 16 of 23 shots from the field (69.6 %) to even its record at 2-2. It was Fullerton's season-opener.

Fullerton trailed by four points (40-36) before the Bruins started getting the ball inside for layups and dunks that produced a 15-2 scoring surge, and UCLA had the upper hand the rest of the way.

"I think we'll learn a lot from this game," Hawking said. "I thought our kids came in poised and ready to play in this environment, especially with it being our first game. It's not easy to play your first game against the defending national champions."

Hawking said he didn't think the Titans executed as well as he hoped they might.

" We were ready to compete," Hawking said, "but we executed at only about 50% efficiency, as far as the way we, as coaches, look at it."

The Titans shot only 40% from the field, compared to UCLA's 64.4% and were outrebounded, 34-29.

It was Fullerton's seventh loss without a victory against UCLA, but the outcome this time was closer than a year agon when the Bruins won, 99-65.

Senior Chuck Overton, who led the Titans in scoring with 19 points, took that as a positive sign. "They lost some guys from last year, but I think we gained some good players this year too. I think we're better than we were then."

One of the newcomers, junior forward John Williams, had 13 points in his Fullerton debut and a team-leading seven rebounds.

Chris Dade, one of two starters back from last year, played only nine minutes because of knee problems. "I've been having some problems with tendinitis during the last week, and it bothered me," Dade said.

Fullerton's next game is Saturday at Cal State Northridge.

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