Cal State Fullerton edges UC Irvine for Dedrique Taylor’s 100th win – Orange County Register | #Bitcoin | #BtitcoingSecurity | #BitcoinHacking

It’s plausible to say few college basketball coaches have worked harder than Cal State Fullerton’s Dedrique Taylor has to win 100 games, a milestone he reached Saturday night with the Titans’ well-earned 67-64 home victory over UC Irvine.

Taylor inherited a bereft Titans program in the 2013-14 season that was dealing with a plethora of off-court issues that ranged from NCAA infractions to players being excused from the program to a bench thinner than a scoresheet.

He was playing true freshmen by his second season and won just nine games in 2014-15, and 30 over his first three seasons. But by 2018, the Titans won the Big West Tournament title on the strength of the program he rebuilt and played for the tourney title again the next season. He has one NCAA Tournament trip and two other postseason appearances in the last four seasons.

A night after a tough 89-78 loss to their Orange County rivals, the short-handed Titans got all of their points from six players, rallied from an 11-point deficit in the second half, went on a 27-10 spree to open a 60-54 lead and didn’t allow a field goal over the final 4:49.

Taylor was feted after the game with a series of congratulatory videos on the gym’s scoreboard from his family, his godmother and his two daughters (“Go Daddy!”), and then a line of hugs from his players and assistants.

“It was special to see the videos since we can’t have our family at games, and I admit I got a little choked up at the end,” Taylor said after the game.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I can emotionally put it into context. I asked my staff what 100 means, and an assistant said I’d eventually have to step back and looked at what we’ve achieved.”

Pulling a program from the curb is an achievement and getting the team to a title and an NCAA tourney berth, one of just three in school history, is another. So is the fact that more than a half-dozen of Taylor’s former players now play professional basketball, and the 2020-21 team has managed to stay competitive during the most inconsistent season in college basketball history.

“If anything, we’ve changed the culture of Cal State Fullerton basketball,” he said, “from what it was to now being at a different level of respect and appreciation. It’s a validation of what we’ve tried to do and, in the process, positively impacted young men’s lives.”

It was the best win of the season for a program that has just three players back from last season and whose schedule was ripped to shreds by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 14 games canceled and two lengthy pauses because of the health and safety protocols. The Titans (6-7 overall, 5-7 Big West) played just one game before Jan. 1 and will play just 12 of a planned 18 Big West games because of cancelations.

Tray Maddox Jr. (15 points, six rebounds), Doctor Bradley (14), Dante Maddox Jr. (12) and Johnny Wang (10) led the Titans, with Josh Hall and Vincent Lee pulling down 18 rebounds between them.

UCI dropped to 12-8 overall and 8-4 in Big West play, tied for third. Collin Welp had 21 points (reaching 1,000 for his career) and 12 rebounds and Brad Greene had 10 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots – tied with Georgetown’s Qudus Wahab and Seton Hall’s Ike Obiagu for most in a game this season.

“(I’m) really, super proud of these guys,” Taylor said. “We competed for 40 minutes, we stuck with it. We were alive and played with great effort. We played together and for each other. It sounds crazy, but trust and belief allowed us to get this win. We didn’t do anything different with the X’s and O’s, we just attacked and defended.”

UCI led by a point after a physical first half and went on a 14-4 run with Welp scoring three baskets and led 44-33 after 4½ minutes. But the Titans scored 27 points over the next 8½ minutes to take a 60-54 lead, Dante Maddox Jr. scoring eight points and Bradley seven.

The Anteaters chipped away at the lead and trailed by one at 65-64 after Greene’s free throws with 1:05 remaining. But the Titans defended shots by Welp and Baker and Wang was fouled by Welp as Greene was scoring, negating the basket. Wang made both free throws to make it 67-64.

The Anteaters had two good looks from the 3-point line in the final nine seconds, Baker and Welp misfiring to preserve the win.

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