After surrendering the lead to trail 54-57 with 6:27 to play, the Hornets finished on a 22-11 run to pull away from Cuesta in the opening round of the CCCAA State Tournament.
Hornet guard Julian Richardson’s 3-pointer to tie the game at 57 started off the 10-0 run that shifted the momentum back in Fullerton’s favor.
“We figured out what their weakness was, they didn’t want to play us man to man, they played more zone defense, so we found open gaps and we executed our plays,” said Richardson.
The game started with the Cougars scoring first quickly against the Hornets. But the Hornets responded back and took a 16-6 lead with 10:36 remaining in the first half. Throughout the first half, both teams struggled to assert their dominance. Each team had their own difficulties figuring out a way to change the pace of the game and score.
As the game progressed the Cougars made a lot of substitutions trying to find the best match up against Fullerton.
At the end of the first half, the Hornets led 34-30. The lead was aided by freshman point guard Ian Fox who scored 13 points in the half.
The second half started with both teams under pressure to take control of the game.
Cougar guard Karem Ozil was a key player in the first half of the game creating scoring opportunities for his teammates, but the Hornets defense was able to su
ppress his ability in the second half, disrupting passing lanes and limiting him to just five points.
“We knew coming into the game he was a big time shooter so we had to do a good job defending him, so we clamped down on him,” said Fullerton head coach Perry Webster.
Richardson scored a game high 25 points for Fullerton. After notching only three points at the half, Richardson found a rhythm and led the Hornets offensively the rest of the way. Fox contributed with 16 points, 3 steals, and 3 assist.
“Julian stepped up big time and Ian is really good for us, when you have two really good guards they can help the team get through a game,” Webster said. “Our team is happy but we’re not finished yet.”
The Hornets will play the winner of Saturday’s matchup between No. 14 seed Mt. San Antonio College and No. 3 seed Chaffey College. The higher seed will play host in the second round which will be Wednesday, March 2, at 7:00 p.m.