USA News

Wrightsell’s late 3-pointer helps Cal State Fullerton edge UC Irvine

FULLERTON — Latrell Wrightsell Jr. was definitely a feel-good story on Thursday night.

Wrightsell returned from a two-game absence because of COVID and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds left to lift Cal State Fullerton to a 62-61 victory over UC Irvine at Titan Gym.

Wrightsell finished with 26 points, including 15 in the second half, and finished 5 for 7 from behind the arc for the Titans (11-11 overall, 5-5 Big West Conference).

Tory San Antonio added 14 points for Fullerton, which had lost two straight without Wrightsell and four of five.

“It’s a big win, coming off a two-game losing streak,” Wrightsell said. “(UC Irvine) is a top team in the conference and being able to beat them is a confidence boost for the rest of our guys, and so now they can see we can beat the best teams.”

Dawson Baker scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half for the Anteaters (13-7, 6-2), who came into the game a half-game behind UC Santa Barbara for first place in the conference but saw the Gauchos (17-3, 8-1) extend their lead when they won at Hawaii, 65-64, later Thursday.

DJ Davis added 13 points and Devin Tillis scored 10 for UCI.

The Anteaters had a 61-59 lead with 13 seconds left and Davis at the free-throw line.

Davis, the second-best free throw shooter in the Big West at 87.1%, missed the front end of the one-and-one, Jalen Harris grabbed the rebound for the Titans, brought it across midcourt and handed the ball off to Wrightsell, who buried a deep 3-pointer from straightaway.

“I saw (Harris) come around, he didn’t look like he had anything,” Wrightsell said. “I ran to the ball, had a little opening, took my shot and it just felt good.”

Wrightsell and San Antonio each scored 11 points in the first half to help the Titans take a 33-28 lead into the break.

Wrightsell and San Antonio each converted four-play plays in the opening half.

Wrightsell scored his 11 points in the first 7:08 to help the Titans to an early 14-9 lead.

“Latrell is one thing, he’s a gamer,” Fullerton coach Dedrique Taylor said. “He shows up on game day and you’ve just got to let him loose.”

The Anteaters sustained a key loss when starting point guard Pierre Cockrell II appeared to injure his ankle with 6:08 left in the first half.

Cockrell leads the Big West at 4.7 assists per game and is No. 1 in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3).

Cockrell’s backup, Ofure Ujadughele, was also forced to the bench after picking up his third foul with 5:54 left in the half.

Max Jones made the fifth 3-pointer of the first half for the Titans to give them their biggest lead at 31-25 with 52 seconds left.

San Antonio, who had combined to shoot 2 for 12 from the floor in the previous two games, drove to the basket and scored with his left hand with two seconds left to give Fullerton a five-point lead at the intermission.

Cockrell started the second half but played limited minutes.

Baker scored eight points in the first 6:13 of the second half. His final basket in that stretch sparked an 11-0 run that moved UCI ahead 50-45 with 9:51 left.

The Anteaters moved back ahead by five points with 3:41 remaining when Tillis scored inside and Fullerton Max Jones was called for a technical foul for flopping on the play.

Wrightsell evened the score at 59-59 with a 3-pointer with 1:19 left. The Anteaters went back ahead one final time at 61-59 on a pull-up jumper by Baker with 48 seconds left, but they were unable to expand on their lead in the final seconds.

“Tonight, our guys just stuck with it and they found a way,” Taylor said. “Being down five with two minutes left against a good team like that, a championship-caliber team, to be able to stick with it and continue to put pressure on them, I thought was really, really good.”

In the women’s game …

Cal State Fullerton 66, UC Irvine 64 (OT): The UCI women saw their nine-game win streak come to an end in a thriller at the Bren Events Center. It was the Anteaters’ first Big West loss and their first home loss of the season.

File source

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button