Seth Greenberg made his debut as a head coach Saturday night, then tried to get over the shock of Cal State Long Beach's 94-82 loss to the University of North Texas, a team that was 5-25 last season.
"We totally self-destructed, and that was my fault," said Greenberg after the 49ers, picked to be among the better teams in the West, lost an opener they had expected to win. "I don't think we're as bad as we look tonight or as good as the kids thought before the game started."
The Eagles looked good, even though only 1,270 fans came to see them in the 10,000-seat Fabulous Super Pit.
Led by guard Donnell Hayden's 33 points and nine assists, the Eagles, after falling behind, 5-0, took a 9-7 lead and never trailed again.
They regularly broke Long Beach's full-court press for layups. "We've got fast people, so it didn't really bother us the whole game," said Hayden, who wasn't with North Texas last season when it lost to the 49ers, 92-74.
The 49ers shot only 36% from the field and were six of 21 from three-point range. They made 14 turnovers, were constantly in foul trouble and were called for three technical fouls.
"That was as poorly a played game as I've been associated with," said Greenberg, who spent 12 years in various assistant jobs. "If we hadn't lost our poise and patience, we could have gotten back in the game. We got it down to five or seven, and our kids wanted to make a seven-point play, and that hasn't been invented."
Long Beach, which made eight of its first 26 shots, was down, 32-17, but trailed 41-33 at halftime. With about 12 minutes left, the 49ers got to within 56-51 on seven consecutive points by Lucious Harris and a jump shot by Bobby Sears.
But then Hayden, fouled by Sears on the press, made both ends of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity. Hayden followed with a three-pointer to extend the lead to 61-51. Long Beach never got closer than eight points after that.
Harris scored a game-high 32 points but made only 12 of 28 shots from the field.
"I know we're better than that," Greenberg kept saying. "The kids have worked so hard, I feel badly for them. . . . They just panicked."