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Shooting Problems Put Long Beach in Tough Spot


LAS VEGAS — It couldn't have happened without a big overall effort, and Long Beach State did that much.

The 49ers shot horribly from the field and free-throw line in both halves, committed eye-opening turnovers and made just enough crucial mistakes Saturday night to lose to Miami of Ohio in overtime, 69-62, in the first game of the Las Vegas Bowl Classic in front of 750 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Miami guard Jermaine Henderson hit an uncontested three-pointer with three seconds left to tie the score, 52-52, and force overtime. But consistency was the key for Long Beach.

Long Beach (3-3) might not have squandered its 10-point lead in the first half if it had shot better than 30.4% from the field in the first half, 39.1% in the second and 33% overall. Maybe it could have held on by shooting better than 66.7% from the line in the first half, 58.8% in the second and 58.3% for the game. Add to that only seven assists and 19 turnovers, and the formula was complete.

And what about those Redskins? They shot 27.7% from the field, committed 19 turnovers and played the final two minutes of regulation and all of overtime with standout forward Devin Davis, who fouled out with six points and 10 rebounds. Still, Miami is unbeaten at 6-0.

"I think this shows how good of a team we are," said Davis, who missed 10 of 12 shots. "We couldn't hit anything, but we kept playing hard and stayed in the game. We had all those open shots . . . oh, man!"

Long Beach took a 21-11 lead with 3:34 left in the first half on a free throw by point guard Rasul Salahuddin, who finished with a team-high 16 points. Salahuddin and his backcourt mate, James Cotton, caused problems for the Redskins with their full- and half-court pressure defense in the half.

But that only helped to mask the 49ers' problems. They weren't shooting well or making sound decisions.

The Redskins were unimpressive when they had easy scoring opportunities. It seemed as if something had to give, and the Redskins felt the same.

"It wasn't them, it was us," Davis said. "We had open shots all night. It was all me missing all those shots."

The Redskins shot 23.1% in the half, and that should have buried them. Not against Long Beach, however. The 49ers led at halftime, 22-20.

"They presented some problems for us on the offensive end," Miami Coach Herb Sendek said. "Conversely, although we didn't have a lot of good offensive looks, our guys were able to stay in the game with good defense on the other end."

Long Beach hurt itself with its typically horrid free-throw shooting in the second half, missing seven of 10 shots and most in the clutch. The 49ers began the game shooting 59.8% from the line this season. With a chance to seal the game in the final 25 seconds of regulation, Cotton and guard Jamie Davis made two of four free throws.

Miami made nine of 11 attempts in the second half and shot 79.4% for the game. That put the Redskins in position for Henderson's game-tying three-pointer.

Even in all that mess, Long Beach Coach Seth Greenberg believes there were some good signs.

"I saw some encouraging things," Greenberg said. "I'm really proud of our team. We played really hard."

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