San Jose Keeps Long Beach Locked in the Cellar, 72-62

Times Staff Writer

Cal State Long Beach had a chance to escape last place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. for the first time in two seasons Monday night, but San Jose State slammed the cellar door.

The Spartans came from behind in the second half to defeat Long Beach, 72-62, before 1,476 at the 49er gym.

Long Beach, which could have passed San Jose, UC Santa Barbara and Pacific with a victory, fell apart in the second half and saw its conference record fall to 1-5.

But Long Beach Coach Ron Palmer refused to be discouraged.

"I think we're going to get out (of 10th place)," he said. "But when we have these types of opportunities, we have to take advantage of them."

San Jose's all-around strong play in the second half didn't leave the 49ers with much chance once the Spartans took the lead for good.

The 49ers scored only four points in the last five minutes after a three-point shot by Reggie Wallace gave them their last lead, 58-57.

That shot was matched by San Jose's Ricky Berry and provided the Spartans' momentum the rest of the way.

"We got a real good team effort," said San Jose Coach Bill Berry, whose club stopped a two-game losing streak and improved to 10-6 overall and 3-4 in the PCAA. "We just hustled harder than we have in a while.".

Long Beach, which shot 59.1% in the first half en route to a 36-32 lead, hit only 26.6% in the second half.

"We broke down in execution, then missed free throws we had to have," said Palmer, a second-year coach who lost for the 35th time in 44 games.

Ricky Berry, the coach's son, led San Jose with 18 points, but Bill Berry was most impressed with forward Reggie Owens, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

"He was a board horse," Berry said.

Guard Ward Farris scored 10 points for San Jose down the stretch.

DeAnthony Langston led Long Beach with 18 points and freshman Andre Purry had 12, all in the first half.

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