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49ers Beat Titans as Tempers Flare : Basketball: Players get into shoving match and coaches hurl expletives at each other in resumption of Big West game. Long Beach wins, 94-76.

January 23, 1991|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FULLERTON — There was no magic in Titan Gym Tuesday night. That feeling of confidence that Cal State Fullerton Coach John Sneed says his players feel at home vanished quicker than you can say abracadabra when Fullerton played Cal State Long Beach.

In its place was hostility, tension and ill will toward opposing coaches.

Two players engaged in a shoving match in the first half, and then 49er Coach Seth Greenberg and Titan Coach John Sneed went jaw-to-jaw, hurling expletives at each other.

And the turning point in the game came in the second half when a Titan player was called for a technical foul for mouthing off to a 49er.

All the extracurricular activity overshadowed Long Beach's 94-76 victory. The Big West Conference game was the resumption of last Thursday's game, which was postponed when 49er forward Kevin Cutler shattered a backboard with 16:10 left in the first half.

Despite missing three dunk shots on apparent attempts to tear down another rim, Cutler scored 26 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds to help the 49ers (6-9, 2-4 in conference) win their first game away from home this season.

Point guard Bobby Sears added a career-high 17 points for Long Beach, which outrebounded Fullerton, 51-28, and had 21 offensive rebounds compared to the Titans' seven. Joe Small scored 22 points and Agee Ward had 17 for Fullerton (11-6, 4-4), which had won its past eight home games.

More on the game later. First, the sordid details on the Clash of the Coaches:

It began when Fullerton forward Bruce Bowen and Chris Tower exchanged shoves after Bowen was fouled with 4:09 left in the first half. The Titans had gone 9 minutes 50 seconds without a basket earlier in the half, missing 12 shots and turning the ball over seven times, and were frustrated.

No brawl ensued, but within moments, both coaches were in front of the scorer's table arguing. Greenberg was not happy with the referees' decision to charge Tower and Bowen with technical fouls, and Sneed was upset that technical fouls weren't called on 49er reserves whom Sneed thought rushed onto the court after the shoving match.

NCAA rules state that a team is assessed a two-shot technical for any player, assistant coach or trainer who comes onto the court during a fracas.

Then the coaches got mad at each other and exchanged unpleasantries. Greenberg said Sneed cast the first expletive. Sneed said Greenberg did.

"I guarantee you what I said was not half as bad as what Greenberg said about me and my program," Sneed said. "I was responding to him."

Said Greenberg: "It's unfortunate what happened tonight. It's not good for basketball. Sneed and I acted immature about the whole thing, and I apologized for responding to Sneed.

"(What Sneed said) was uncalled for. It was unprofessional. It's not a good standard to set for players, but this is a big rivalry and in a good rivalry, those things happen."

It took officials about 10 minutes to restore order, and the delay roused the 2,222 fans in Titan Gym. The Titans then outscored the 49ers, 12-4, to close the half and trailed, 45-33, at halftime.

Fullerton then made another run at Long Beach, outscoring the 49ers, 11-2, early in the second half to pull to within 53-46 with 14:53 remaining. The Titans gained even more momentum when Sears was called for traveling near midcourt.

But Fullerton point guard Wayne Williams let his emotions get the best of him. He verbally taunted Sears but was quickly slapped with a technical foul.

Tower made both free throws, the 49ers regained possession and scored the next four points to take a 59-46 lead with 13:07 left.

Sneed disagreed with the call and intimated that perhaps the official let his emotions get the best of him in the charged-up atmosphere of the game.

"Have you ever seen a guy get a technical foul on the court for talking?" Sneed asked. "Both guys were talking, not one. That was a turnover and it was our possession but instead it's two points for them and their ball. That was a big turning point."

Fullerton never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way, as Long Beach dominated the offensive boards in the second half. Eight of the 49ers' second-half baskets came on follow shots.

Long Beach played much of the game without leading scorer Lucious Harris, who was benched until the 15:54 mark of the second half for missing curfew at Las Vegas over the weekend.

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