EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - Cal State Fullerton jumped out to an early 15-point lead Saturday before rolling to a 79-57 victory over SIUE in men's basketball at the Vadalabene Center. The Titans also grabbed the game's first 12 rebounds.
"We just got off to a poor start defensively," SIUE Head Coach Lennox Forrester said. "For us it has to start on the defensive end."
An Andre Hardy lay-in put the Titans on top 20-5 with 13:15 remaining in the first half before the Cougars got on a roll to get back in the game. SIUE used a 15-4 run over the next 3:38, capped by a Mark Yelovich layup, to cut the deficit to four at 24-20. Derian Shaffer hit a pair of free throws with 6:38 left in the first half to make the score 29-26. It was as close as the Cougars would be all day to Fullerton. The Cougars, 1-5, trailed 37-30 at half.
Yelovich scored 14 points to lead the Cougars while also moving into the top 20 on SIUE's all-time scoring list. The junior now has 886 points in 59 career games, which is good for 20th. Former teammate Nikola Bundalo is 19th on the list with 888 points.
The Cougars kept it close to start the second half. Yelovich hit a jumper to start the a half, was fouled, and converted the free throw to cut the lead back to four at 37-33. The Titans stretched the advantage to eight before back-to-back Cougar baskets made it four again. Kris Davis grabbed a steal then finished with a fast break dunk to make it 45-41 Fullerton.
Isiah Umipig capped a 10-2 Titans run with a three-point to give CSF a 12-point lead with 12:00 left in the game. The Cougars got as close as nine points (57-48) thanks to a three-pointer by Davis with 9:48 to play before Fullerton broke away for good, outscoring SIUE 22-9 from that point on.
"We have to be disciplined on the offensive end, and we have to be disciplined on the defensive end," Forrester said. "We have to have some urgency."
The Titans, 4-3, finished with a four players in double figures scoring and held a 40-24 rebounding edge at game's end. D.J. Seeley finished with a game-high 24 points. Umipig had 18. Kwame Vaughn finished with 15, while Hardy chipped in 10.
SIUE next meets Ball State Tuesday night at home. Forrester said he still has plenty of confidence.
"I told them after the game that I believe in them. I still believe we can be a better team."
Tipoff against the Cardinals is set for 7:30 p.m. It is the second game of a doubleheader with the women's team.