Russell, Long Beach Are Too Much for Fullerton, 85-71

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bryon Russell scored a personal-best 32 points, Lucious Harris had 22 and Chris Tower added 17 Thursday night as Cal State Long Beach defeated Cal State Fullerton, 85-71, in a Big West Conference game at University Gymnasium.

It was the 12th consecutive victory at home for Long Beach, 14-9 overall and 8-6 in the Big West. Fullerton, which beat the 49ers, 78-77, in overtime in their first game, fell to 10-13, 6-8.

"This was a very, very good win for us," Long Beach Coach Seth Greenberg said. "It was one of those nights when we executed every call in the last five minutes of play."

Long Beach outscored the Titans, 20-4, in the final 4:44, including 10 of 12 free throws.

A pair of free throws by Fullerton's Bruce Bowen gave the Titans a 66-65 lead with 4:44 to play.

But Russell, fouled by Kim Kemp, scored on a layup off a pass from Harris. He made the free throw for a 68-66 lead, and the 49ers pulled away. Russel's dunk off a pass from Harris with 1:44 remaining gave Long Beach a 73-66 lead.

"We're on a roll," said Russell, who was 11 for 12 from the field and had several dunks in front of 1,638. He also made 10 of 12 free throws.

The 49ers, who defeated Fresno State Monday night with some key rebounding and defense, got 71 points from their front line. They relied on man-to-man defense to keep Fullerton at bay early in the game.

"I thought we were as bad as we could be in the first 10 minutes offensively," Greenberg said. "But our defense was magnificent, and that's what kept us in the game."

Fullerton converted only two of its first nine shots from the field.

But Long Beach turned the ball over three times in the first minute and a half.

Two free throws by Tower gave Long Beach a 10-9 lead with 15:19 to play in the half, but the scored was tied at, 15-15, after two baskets from Fullerton guard Joe Small.

Long Beach held a 21-16 lead, but Fullerton came back to lead, 24-21 on a basket by Small with 7:02 remaining in the half.

A three-point basket by guard Bobby Sears put Long Beach back in front, 30-27 with 4:41 left.

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