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Long Beach Struggles to Beat Titans : College basketball: Both teams look sloppy and equipment problems slow play before 49ers stagger to 96-87 victory.


FULLERTON — The shot clock went haywire. The coaches went ballistic. Passes went flying out of control. Shots went everywhere but in the basket.

Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, two young teams bent on self-destruction, played a strange, sloppy game Thursday night.

Long Beach seemed to maintain its poise a bit better, though, and stumbled away with a 96-87 victory in Titan Gym.

The 49ers (16-9, 10-7 in the Big West) shot better than the Titans (7-18, 5-12) from the field and made their free throws down the stretch.

Long Beach's 13-2 run midway through the second half opened some breathing room and the 49ers held off the Titans in the final minutes.

"Overall, it was a good win in a tough place to play," Long Beach Coach Seth Greenberg said after the 49ers' first victory in Titan Gym since 1991, Greenberg's first season as coach.

"This is going to help us down the road."

Rod Hannibal had a game-high 18 points and reserve Juaquin Hawkins added 16. Hawkins, a sophomore, had seven of the 49ers' 13 points during a two-minute span in which Long Beach increased its lead from 57-54 to 70-56.

Fullerton didn't fold in the stretch, however, closing to within 86-81 with 2:09 left on two free throws by James French.

But Long Beach made six of eight free throws in the game's final 1 minute 12 seconds to seal the victory.

"We played impressively against an excellent team," Titan Coach Brad Holland said. "The only thing we missed was we couldn't knock down any shots. We had good open shots that we just didn't knock down."

Fullerton shot 50% for the game, but only 39.3 in the first half and trailed by just one at the half.

"We played well enough to win," Holland said after the Titans lost to Long Beach for the 10th time in their last 14 meetings. "If only we could have hit a few shots."

French led the Titans with 17 points, all but two in the second half, and Winston Peterson had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

For the most part, it was a forgettable night for both teams and the 983 who watched the 66th game between the rivals.

Little went right, including a shot clock that malfunctioned four times in the second half, causing delay after delay. That served only to enhance the sluggish play.

Neither Greenberg nor Holland was happy and vented their anger at lead official Jim Stupin.

Long Beach led, 33-32, by halftime, but was far from impressive. Neither team was very consistent in a sloppy first half.

Long Beach's biggest lead was 8-4, but Fullerton switched from a man-to-man to a zone and the 49er lead didn't last long.

Fullerton went on a 16-8 run to lead, 22-16, after two free throws by Fred Amos with 7:37 left in the half.

It was a far cry from the teams' last game. Long Beach opened up a 44-27 halftime lead en route to an easy, 91-69, victory on Jan. 29.

Thursday, the halftime box score gave Long Beach 10 turnovers, which seemed low considering the errant passes flying in all directions.

Fullerton, which had eight turnovers at halftime, shot 39.3% from the field (11 for 28), but still managed to stay close. Fred Amos, a reserve forward, gave the Titans a boost with eight first-half points.

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