Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach both advanced to the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. tournament Saturday night. One accomplished this by taking a small step forward. The other dropped it into reverse and backed in.
Fullerton handed Long Beach its seventh straight loss, fighting off the 49ers' second-half comeback for a 72-67 victory before 2,916 spectators at Titan Gym. Junior guard Richard Morton had 20 points and senior center Herman Webster, playing his last game in Titan Gym, had 13 points and 8 rebounds to help give Fullerton the victory it needed to escape the uninviting prospect of playing top-ranked Nevada Las Vegas in next Thursday's first round of the PCAA tournament at the Forum.
The Titans concluded the regular season tied for fourth in the conference standings with a 9-9 record, 16-11 overall. So, for the third straight season, Fullerton will open the tournament against UC Irvine, a team that swept its two regular-season games with the Titans this year.
The 49ers adjourned to their locker room to await word from San Jose, where University of the Pacific needed a win over San Jose State to get into the tournament and knock Long Beach out. San Jose State gave Long Beach (7-11, 12-18) a gentle shove into the tournament by winning.
On Friday, junior guard Morlon Wiley, the 49ers' leading scorer, became the second player in one week to be suspended from the team. Last Saturday, forward Andre Purry was suspended for violating team rules. The action against Wiley left Palmer with only nine players in uniform against the Titans.
"Morlon was suspended for disciplinary reasons," Palmer said without elaborating. "We're going to meet (later) to discuss his future."
UC Santa Barbara 73, Utah State 71--Senior forward Khris Fortson scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds to lead the second-place Gauchos (15-11, 10-7) over the Aggies (15-15, 8-10) at Santa Barbara.
Utah State's Todd Bearup missed a 13-foot jumper at the buzzer as Santa Barbara held on after blowing an 11-point lead with three minutes remaining.
San Jose State 70, Pacific 65--Guard Ricky Berry scored 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, and forward George Puou had 14 points to lead the Spartans (14-13 overall, 10-8 in the PCAA) over the Tigers (10-17, 6-12) at San Jose.