With five minutes left in the game Saturday night, Cal State Long Beach finally made its first free throw. By then, it didn't matter.
The 49ers missed their first eight foul shots, many of them at the most inopportune times, as they lost to UC Santa Barbara, 82-67.
There were other reasons why the 49ers, 10-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big West Conference, had their four-game winning streak stopped before 6,000 fans in the Campus Events Center. One was their inability to keep Santa Barbara (8- 4, 3-2) off the offensive boards.
But it was the foul situation that enraged Long Beach Coach Joe Harrington.
"The discrepancy in free throws is incredible," Harrington said, pacing outside the locker room.
He had an excuse for his team for going so long without making one.
"You shoot 38 free throws, you warm up a little bit," he said.
Santa Barbara made 28 of 38 from the line while the 49ers wound up making only five of 14.
The boards, though, may have been even more of a factor. Santa Barbara won the rebounding battle, 53-42, and converted many of its 19 offensive rebounds into easy baskets. Most of that inside damage was done by forwards Eric McArthur and Gary Gray. McArthur had 21 points and 15 rebounds. Gray had 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The 49ers, overcoming a nine-point deficit, had taken their only second-half lead, 46-45, on a steal by Rudy Harvey that led to a dunk by Lucious Harris with 16:30 left .
Shortly after that, they had a chance to extend the lead, but Tyrone Mitchell missed two free throws.
In the next 11 minutes the 49ers scored only four points. During that time their play was marked by turnovers and poor outside shooting. The Gauchos, meanwhile, went on an 18-4 run that was capped by a three-point shot by Carrick DeHart.
Long Beach did get a final chance after cutting the lead to 65-60. But once again the 49ers let the Gauchos rebound two missed shots before Lucius Davis hit a jump shot. McArthur, who was fouled while Davis" shot was in the air, then made two free throws.
"I'm not pleased. I don't feel like talking about that miserable game," Harrington said.
The 49ers started the game by making six of their first nine shots for a 13-6 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the first half.