Titan Memories: 2008 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament Championship

Scott Cutley.  Photo by Matt Brown.
Scott Cutley. Photo by Matt Brown.

It had been 30 years since the improbable run of Cal State Who? into the Elite Eight of the 1978 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The 1977-78 team, led by Greg Bunch and helmed by head coach Bobby Dye, enjoyed an unrivaled status within the annals of Titan basketball.  Fullerton had not gone to the conference tournament final since 1985, and that team was easily dispatched by national powerhouse UNLV.

The 2007-08 Fullerton squad were coached by Bob Burton, and the roster contained some very memorable Titans in Scott Cutley, Frank Robinson, Rayshawn Reed and Josh Akognon.

Fullerton finished the regular season at 21-8, and in a three-way tie for first place.  Expectations were high as the Titans entered the Big West Tournament as the #3 seed. 

After comfortable wins over UC Riverside and CSUN, the Titans were set to face #5 seed UC Irvine in an all-Orange County Big West Tournament Final on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Both teams had gotten to the tournament final after winning upset games the prior day.  UCI had knocked off #1 seed UC Santa Barbara, and Fullerton had easily handled #2 seed CSUN to set up the matchup with the Anteaters.  The winner would receive the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. 

With it being virtually a home game for both schools, 4,234 fans attended.  The sides were clearly delineated with fans dressed in gold or orange.  Everyone understood the historic ramifications of a victory:  UCI had never been to the NCAA tournament, and Cal State Fullerton had not been a participant since 1978.

There were only three early lead changes as Fullerton stormed to a dominating 81-66 win, culminated by Titan fans spilling onto the court at the buzzer to celebrate and witness the net-cutting ceremony for the first time in three decades.

Tournament MVP Josh Akognon led the Titans with 23 points, including knocking down four 3-pointers.  Four of the five Fullerton starters finished with double-figure points.  Titan big's Scott Cutley and Marcus Morgan logged double-doubles in points and rebounds.

The Titans would travel to a familiar site, Omaha, Nebraska for their first-round NCAA tournament matchup with a very tall and physical Wisconsin squad.

Josh Akognon's 31 points kept the Titans in the game, but Fullerton was eventually overpowered by the Badgers 71-56.  The season would end for Fullerton at an impressive 24-9.

Postseason honors were in abundance:  Scott Cutley was named Big West player of the year, and an honorable mention All-American by A.P. and CollegeHoops.net.  Josh Akognon and Frank Robinson were selected to the All-Big West second team.  Robinson was also named Big West defensive player of the year.

Head coach Bob Burton was selected NABC District 15 coach of the year.  The team and coach made various radio and TV appearances and were honored with a proclamation by the city of Fullerton and at an Angels game, complete with coach Burton throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Head coach Dedrique Taylor would lead the 2017-18 Titans to a conference tournament win and NCAA tournament appearance, proving that it wouldn't take another 30 years between visits, but perhaps it does need to happen in year that ends in 8.   

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Schedule Click For Full Schedule

Total Slides 1 : Active Index 1 : Last Slide Divs 3

-3
Thu May 28
Cancelled
vs. NCAA West Preliminaries
@ Lawrence, Kan.
-3
Fri May 29
Cancelled
vs. NCAA West Preliminaries
@ Lawrence, Kan.
-3
Sat May 30
Cancelled
vs. NCAA West Preliminaries
@ Lawrence, Kan.
No Event
No Event
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