Gerald Thomas' free throw with no time left gave San Jose State an 80-79 victory over Cal State Long Beach in a wild and crazy Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. game Saturday night.
Morlon Wiley, who scored 33 points for the 49ers, had tied the game at 79-79 on a three-point shot with two seconds left.
Ricky Berry, who led San Jose with 28 points, then threw a long inbounds pass that Wiley tipped. The ball rolled to Thomas, who shot from 20 feet and was fouled by John Hatten at the buzzer.
Thomas missed his first shot, and the 49er players, grouped behind Thomas, applauded. But Thomas sank the second shot. All Wiley could do was turn and shake San Jose Coach Bill Berry's hand.
Long Beach Coach Joe Harrington believed the game was decided by the officials.
With the 49ers leading, 68-63, Ricky Berry drove down the lane. His layup appeared to roll of the rim. But the officials ruled it a basket, which made Berry's subsequent free throw the completion of a three-point play.
"That ball didn't go in," said Jerry West, general manager of the Lakers, who was seated at the press table.
"I thought it did," said Ricky Berry.
"I didn't see it but the refs saw it (go in)," his father said.
It was the second straight angry ending for Harrington on the 49ers' two-game trip.
"I'm really upset about the basket Berry didn't make,' Harrington said. "I'm sick about it and upset for our players. It's just a shame. We actually won the game."
The loss was the third straight for the 49ers, who are 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the PCAA. San Jose is 7-5 and 3-1.
Wiley was booed by the Civic Auditorium crowd of 1,849 every time he touched the ball in the last nine minutes after an incident with Spartan guard Anthony Perry.
Perry swung at Wiley with 9:26 left. According to Perry, he retaliated for being slugged by Wiley, a blow Bill Berry said the referees didn't see.
A frenzied scene followed at midcourt as the referees decided the fate of the two players. Harrington and Bill Berry stood screaming at each other.
The decision was a foul on Parry. Neither player was thrown out of the game. A San Jose fan, though, was ejected.
"This is a low-stress game," Bill Berry joked afterward of his exchange with Harrington. "It was nothing personal."
In the first half, the 49ers, putting to good use the three-point shot, built a quick 16-5 lead and hassled the Spartans with a full-court press.
They led, 44-39, at halftime, and were in front much of the second half, once by 12 points.
San Jose attempted 40 foul shots in the game to 28 for the 49ers.