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McNaull Steps Up, Long Beach Steps Out of 3-Game Skid

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Signs gradually appeared during the last few weeks that Long Beach State center Joe McNaull was working on something special, even during a rocky stretch for the 49ers.

He revealed the finished product Wednesday night, recording Long Beach career highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds in leading the 49ers to 69-64 Big West Conference victory over Nevada before 5,721 at the Lawlor Events Center.

McNaull, a transfer from San Diego State, also helped Long Beach (5-4, 1-1 in the Big West) end its three-game losing streak.

“To be successful, we have to keep the score in the low 70s and take advantage of our inside people,” Long Beach Coach Seth Greenberg said. “We’d be foolish not to take advantage of Joe and the things he can do for us. That’s what we did.”

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Long Beach rallied from a 44-35 deficit with 17:47 remaining in the game. The 49ers outscored the Wolf Pack (6-6, 2-2), 29-10, over the next 12:51 to take a 64-54 lead.

The 49ers shot 48.2%, their best performance in four games. The Wolf Pack shot 49% but committed 21 turnovers.

“Their defense took control of the game,” Nevada Coach Pat Foster said. “They put the ball inside and that hurt us.”

Forward Mike Atkinson, who missed the 49ers’ last game, played despite a sore left foot and helped spark Long Beach with 10 points in 27 minutes. His reverse slam with 5:19 remaining gave the 49ers a 62-54 lead and brought the Long Beach bench alive.

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Forward-center Faron Hand led the Wolf Pack with 16 points. Guard Brian Green had 13 and guard Eathan O’Bryant had 12 points and eight assists.

The Wolf Pack trailed only once in the first half and led, 39-34, at halftime. Nevada had few problems with the 49ers’ defense, shooting 56%.

McNaull played a strong first half for the second consecutive game, scoring 13 points on five-of-seven shooting and grabbing six rebounds.


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