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Despite 2 Victories at Home, 49ers Don't Look Sharp


LONG BEACH — With a postseason NCAA Tournament berth seemingly riding on every game, and with the Big West Conference race winding down to the final weeks, this is no time for Cal State Long Beach to be lethargic.

The 49ers have not looked sharp, particularly on defense, even though they snapped a three-game losing streak last week with home victories over Utah State and Nevada.

They were especially nonchalant Saturday in the 91-84 win over lowly Nevada. Long Beach was outrebounded, 38-28, committed 20 turnovers and made only 29 of 42 free throws in that game. In the second half, Nevada made 14 of 23 shots in the key, including 10 layups.

"It was just a lack of concentration on our part," said senior forward Bryon Russell, who scored 14 points and grabbed 9 rebounds but committed 6 turnovers.

"Maybe it was because they had lost their last nine games (actually eight)," Russell added. "We thought it would be easy."

Coach Seth Greenberg chastised his players after the game. "I was very upset," he said. "These guys have got to learn that basketball is a game of 40 minutes and they can't come out and play half of that."

As the conference tournament nears, Greenberg may need more help from his bench. He is using only seven players--Russell, guards Lucious Harris, Jeff Rogers and Brian Camper, forward Rod Hannibal and centers Chris Tower and Mike Atkinson.

Greenberg had hoped to let his reserves play more against Nevada, but he never had a lead he was comfortable with. He'd like to get more time for freshman guard Eric Brown and sophomore forward Terrance O'Kelley. Brown played two minutes and O'Kelley one on Saturday.

Long Beach plays at Cal State Fullerton tonight at 8:35 (Channel 56) and at UC Irvine Saturday at 5.

The 49ers, 16-6 overall and 8-5 in league, are tied for third place with Pacific. First-place New Mexico State has a half-game lead over Nevada Las Vegas. Those teams meet Saturday in Las Vegas.

Fullerton is 12-8 and 7-5, and has won nine of its last 10 home league games. The Titans are led by forward Bruce Bowen, who averages 16.3 points a game.

The 49ers defeated Fullerton, 72-58, Jan. 21.

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