FULLERTON – Senior guard Donovan Fields (above) chalked up his 20th double-digit scoring game of the year with 20 points for the Cal Poly men's basketball program, but Cal State Fullerton finished an historic 35-for-49 from the free throw line Thursday evening as the Mustangs fell inside Titan Gym, 86-75.
Senior guard Marcellus Garrick added 18 points and junior guard Job Alexander matched a career high with 15 for Cal Poly (6-20, 2-11), which opened Thursday's game with a 7-0 run and led at halftime, 35-32. Second-place Cal State Fullerton, however, set a new single game record for free throw attempts by a Cal Poly opponent (49, eclipsing the 48 attempted by Seattle on Dec. 3, 2009). The Titans also knocked down 35 to match the all-time Cal Poly record for opponent free throw conversions (set by UC Irvine on March 6, 2010).
Cal Poly, which itself matched season highs for free throw attempts (33) and conversions (21) in a game that featured 53 fouls, also received 12 points from sophomore wing Mark Crowe. The Mustangs, who committed only seven turnovers, shot just 14.3 (2-for-14) percent from three-point range.
Cal Poly closes its road trip and 18-game regular season road schedule at Long Beach State on Saturday, March 2. Tip time from Walter Pyramid is 7 p.m. with action broadcasted on ESPN3.
During the opening two minutes of Thursday's game, the Mustangs received a Crowe three-pointer, a Fields layup and a Garrick dunk to grab the 7-0 lead. Defensively, the Mustangs kept Cal State Fullerton to a 0-for-6 shooting start and scoreless for the opening four minutes.
Still leading 17-10 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Cal Poly was kept to just two buckets during a five-and-a-half minute span. Cal State Fullerton's resulting 14-4 run handed the Titans a 24-21 lead with six minutes remaining in the half.
The two sides traded the lead thrice more down the stretch with Cal Poly taking a 35-32 advantage into the break after Fields hit a layup with three seconds on the clock.
The Titans needed just four minutes to overtake Cal Poly at 41-40 on a layup from senior guard Kyle Allman, Jr. Cal Poly regained its advantage on the next possession through a Fields layup and the lead changed hands three more times in the next seven minutes with neither the Mustangs or Titans able to scratch out more than a four-point edge until Cal State Fullerton senior guard Khalil Ahmad placed his squad up 61-55 after completing a three-point play with eight minutes to go.
Alexander and Fields combined to knock down four successive free throws on Cal Poly's next two possessions, but the Titans responded with a 10-1 run to reach Thursday's first double-digit lead.
Cal Poly closed to within six points of Cal State Fullerton's lead just once down the stretch.