FULLERTON — Chris St. Clair and Chris Dade combined for 51 points Saturday night.
And that turned out to be the lift Cal State Fullerton needed for a 98-94 basketball victory over Loyola Marymount--and a three-game Titan winning streak--in front of 1,229 in Titan Gym.
St. Clair scored a career-high 27 points and Dade came on strong in the second half to finish with 24, enabling the Titans to overcome a Loyola surge at the finish.
"We certainly made it interesting, didn't we?" Fullerton Coach Bob Hawking said. "Loyola played well and you have to give them credit."
The Titans (3-1) had a 13-point lead with less than three minutes to play before the Lions rallied to close the gap. Despite a good effort, it was Loyola's fourth loss in four games.
Loyola made 14 of 27 three-point shots, including three of four by Tim Kennedy and four of eight by Haywood Eaddy, but the Titans shot 50.8% from the field and made 27 of 43 free throws.
Kennedy, who made eight of 12 shots from the field, finished with 20 points. Eaddy had 16. Forwards Ben Ammerman and Elton Mashack each had 15, but Ammerman was held in check much of the time when he was matched against Dade.
"I told C.D. [Dade] to concentrate on his defense when he had a little trouble on offense in the first half, and he really did that, and then got going," St. Clair said.
Senior forward Craig Whitehead had 15 points for Fullerton, giving the Titans a solid No. 3 scoring effort to go with the performances of St. Clair and Dade. Ike Harmon also returned after missing one game with a mild concussion, scoring eight points in 15 minutes.
The Titans led, 25-13, with less than eight minutes gone in the first half after two three-point baskets and a fast-break layup by St. Clair, but the Lions worked their way back in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Loyola managed to lead, 45-44, before Whitehead's tip-in at the buzzer gave Fullerton a 46-45 edge at halftime. Fullerton went back into high gear in the second half when Dade made his first outside shot of the night, a three-pointer from the corner, and Whitehead dropped in a jumper from the side. Another three-pointer by Dade and his fast-break layup lifted the Titans to a 13-point lead.
But Loyola came back strong and made it a nervous finish for the Titans.
"That was the first close game we've had," Hawking said. "So much happened in that stretch run that maybe we'll learn some things from it. We did a good job on their inside game, but they made up for it with their perimeter shooting."
Loyola shot 49.3% for the game, but had only 20 free-throw attempts, making 12.
Hawking thought the difference was the scoring of St. Clair and Dade. Dade made two of five three-point shots, and those two put him into a tie for the Titan career high with 145.
"I got off to a slow start, but my teammates told me to keep shooting, and I got going in the second half," Dade said. "I was tossing and turning in my sleep last night because my wrist had been bothering me."
St. Clair was seven for 12 from the field, including six of 10 on three-point shots. Dade, who scored eight points in the first half, made seven of 13 from the field. Dade was two of three on three-point tries in the second half.
"St. Clair got some good open looks," Hawking said. "He's capable of that on a regular basis. And Dade is such a strong shooter, he has the ultimate confidence in his stroke even though he got off to a slow start. They both have the green light to shoot whenever they get a good look."