OMAHA, Neb. ?
Cal State Fullerton was thinking big. Wisconsin was plain old big. In the end,
it was the big bodies that prevailed over the big hopes.
third-seeded Badgers were able to overpower the 14th-seeded Titans, shutting
down the upset bid Thursday night with a 71-56 victory that advanced them to
the second round of the NCAA tournament.
mean it was easy, though. CSF didn?t back down from UW, keeping it close
throughout and even providing a little bit of a scare early on.
?This is the
NCAA tournament. You expect everything. You expect good teams and you expect to
give your best. It?s win or go home,? senior Brian Butch said. ?We knew they
were a heck of a team when we got here, and they fought us hard and continued
to fight us hard the entire game.?
Though Cal State
held a brief 31-30 second-half lead, Wisconsin used a 15-3 run to pull away for
has played a lot of games, and we?ve been down and we?ve come back from
deficits,? junior Marcus Landry said. ?This team has matured, and we showed
that tonight. We didn?t panic. We stayed focused and stuck to the game plan.?
starting lineup included two players under six feet, and the biggest Titan
player in the rotation stood at just 6-feet-5-inches. With such a large size
advantage, UW was able to grab 51 rebounds, just one off of its season high and
24 more than its opponent.
really matter how small they are,? Butch said. ?They did a pretty good job of
controlling us on the glass for a while.?
One of the
Titans? smallest players, 5-foot-11-inch guard Josh Akognon was the one doing
the most damage. The guard went off for 31 points, including five made
3-pointers, pulled down eight rebounds, and almost single-handedly kept the
game close at times.
?He hit some
tough shots to put up some points there, but he?s a great player,? guard Jason
Bohannon said. ?We just tried to focus on our defense and make them do things
they didn?t want to do.?
came out of the gates firing, eventually opening up a 16-10 lead before a 16-2
Wisconsin run made it 26-18. Just when it looked like UW was starting to take
control though, the Titans ran off an 8-0 stretch of its own to tie the game at
28 before a Greg Stiemsma put-back made it 30-28 at the half.
has a run,? Butch said. ?They had a run, and we had a run.?
was able to wear down its opponent early in the second half by getting Fullerton
into foul trouble. The Titans picked up 25 fouls over the course of the game ? 16
in the second half ? and lost second-leading scorer and rebounder Frank
Robinson when the senior fouled out with almost ten minutes left to play in the
?You know we
had a hard time, because of that foul situation,? Titan coach Bob Burton said.
?We wanted to get pressure and every time we seemed to get close, there was a
foul. Frank Robinson started to play really good, and the next minute he fouled
out of the game. It really had our rotation kind of fouled up because we?re
really not that deep of a team.?
hampered by some foul trouble of its own in the first half as sophomore Trevon
Hughes picked up a pair of fouls in the game?s first eight minutes and was
forced to sit the rest of the half. Hughes played most of the second half,
however, and finished the game with eight points and four steals.
the team in scoring with 14 points while Joe Krabbenhoft and Jason Bohannon
each had 13. Landry finished the game with 12 rebounds.
?We kind of all try
to do the little things, the intangibles,? senior Greg Stiemsma said. ?It might
not always be the prettiest game, but we?ve been winning with it so we?re going
to stick to it.?