That organized chaos Cal State Fullerton calls a basketball team consumed another opponent Saturday and is ready to test its shenanigans in the Big West Conference tournament.
When Jamaal Brown tipped in a miss by Ralphy Holmes, the host Titans had pulled off a 72-70 victory over Cal State Northridge that sent Fullerton (18-9 overall, 12-6 in the Big West) into the tournament as the third-seeded team. Heady stuff for a group of guys who play offense without a conscience and defense when it seems to suit them. But, then, it's a style that has produced nine victories in their last 11 games
"Is this going to work in the tournament?" Holmes said. "We're the top-scoring team in the conference. Other teams hate us because of the way we play. The defense? We'll work on that."
The Titans' approach seemed to engulf even Coach Bob Burton at the finish. After Davin White's three-point basket tied the score with 26 seconds left, Burton set up a play for Brown. He then changed his mind, called a timeout and gave the ball to Holmes.
"The way Ralphy looked at me, I had to keep him happy," Burton said.
Said Holmes: "Coach got what he wanted. Jamaal took the last shot."
Holmes had his first triple-double, finishing with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Brown had a team-high 19 points, and Yaphett King, the Titans' 6-foot-4 "power" forward, had 16.
Northridge (17-12, 12-6) never led, finally tying the score on White's three-pointer.
"I've never really played like this before," Burton said. "I usually like to run some plays. But we decided early in the season that we had to play like this. I had to let these guy be themselves."
The Titans' 12 conference victories equal a school record and their 18 victories are the most since the 1982-83 season.
No. 17 Pacific 64, UC Riverside 48 -- Guillaume Yango had 12 points and 14 rebounds at Riverside and the Tigers (25-2, 18-0) tied a school record with their 21st consecutive victory.
Pacific held the Highlanders (9-19, 4-14) to 14 first-half points and led by 18 points at the break.
Steve Williams had 16 points for the Highlanders, who lost their last four games and seven of eight.
Long Beach State 58, UC Santa Barbara 57 -- Kevin Houston's layup with 2.5 seconds remaining lifted the host 49ers (10-19, 7-11), who have won seven of eight.
After taking the inbounds pass, Anthony Coleman threw a half-court pass to Jibril Hodges, who passed to Houston at the top of the key. Houston drove the lane and scored over two defenders.
Santa Barbara (10-17, 7-11) has lost nine of 12 and is 2-13 on the road.
UC Irvine 79, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 49 -- Greg Ethington scored 21 points and the host Anteaters (15-12, 8-10) clinched fifth place in the conference.
The Mustangs (5-22, 3-15) made only eight field goals in the first half and gave up 45 first-half points, tying a season high.