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Titans Make Loss to 49ers Interesting

College basketball: After routing Fullerton in last meeting, Long Beach State struggles to 69-68 victory. Harmon scores 22 points in defeat.

February 25, 2001|LON EUBANKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a far cry from Long Beach State's 24-point runaway against Cal State Fullerton in early January.

This time the 49ers had to struggle, but they held on for a 69-68 Big West Conference victory in front of 1,275 Saturday night in Titan Gym. It was Long Beach's fourth consecutive victory over Fullerton.

Long Beach overcame a 22-point effort by Fullerton's Ike Harmon, who made a three-point shot at the buzzer to cut the final margin to a point.

The 49ers made two turnovers in the final two minutes, but Fullerton failed to take advantage of either one, and Ron Johnson made two free throws with 34 seconds left to keep Long Beach in control.

"They almost gave it to us with those two opportunities," Titan Coach Donny Daniels said. "But we just couldn't get a basket."

The victory kept Long Beach (16-12, 9-6) in fourth place in the conference. The defeat left Fullerton (4-21, 3-12) with its most losses in a season since the Titans finished 4-23 in George McQuarn's first season as coach in 1980-81.

Fullerton remains in the running for a spot in the Big West tournament. Idaho, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the Titans each have three conference victories after Idaho defeated Cal Poly Saturday night. Eight of nine teams advance to the tournament.

Guard Ramel Lloyd led the 49ers with 16 points, his 25th double-figure scoring effort of the season. Center Travis Reed finished with 15 despite making only five of 14 shots from the field. Reserve Kevin Roberts had 14.

"We focused on Reed, but he still got his points," Daniels said. "I thought our guys played extremely hard."

Lloyd moved into the No. 6 spot among Long Beach career scorers with 1,443 points, passing Morlon Wiley, who had 1,430 in 1984-88.

Harmon made eight of nine shots from the field and five of seven free throws. He also had a team-high nine rebounds. Harmon became Fullerton's third leading career rebounder with 634, passing Henry Turner, who had 630 in 1984-88.

"Everyone played hard," Harmon said. "I thought we deserved to win this one, but Long Beach is a good team, and we let them get their momentum back in the second half."

Long Beach led, 19-10, in the first half, but the Titans scored 14 consecutive points, with Ryan Dillon sinking a three-pointer and Harmon getting a dunk off a fast break to complete the run. Harmon and Dillon each had six points in the surge.

The 49ers came back with a run of their own, outscoring Fullerton, 11-2, in the final three minutes of the half for a 30-26 lead at the break.

Fullerton regained control and built a 53-46 lead midway through the second half on five consecutive points by David Castleton and a rebound basket by Matt Caldwell.

Harmon picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench with 10:38 left and the Titans leading, 53-51.

Long Beach regained the lead and the momentum before he returned about three minutes later.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Big West Standings

Through Saturday's games

*--*

Conference Overall Team W L Pct. W L Pct. UC Irvine 13 1 .929 22 3 .880 Utah State 11 3 .786 22 5 .815 UC Santa Barbara 9 5 .643 13 12 .520 Long Beach State 9 6 .600 16 12 .571 Pacific 7 7 .538 15 10 .600 Boise State 6 8 .429 14 13 .519 Cal Poly SLO 3 11 .214 9 16 .360 Idaho 3 11 .214 6 19 .240 CS Fullerton 3 12 .200 4 21 .160

*--*

Saturday's results

UC Irvine 74, UC Riverside 66

Long Beach State 69, Cal State Fullerton 68

Boise State 78, Utah State 77 (OT)

Idaho 82, Cal Poly SLO 75

UC Santa Barbara 72, Pacific 63

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