Salahuddin's Balanced Play Gives Long Beach a Boost

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rasul Salahuddin revels in his growing reputation as a defensive stopper, but he wants people to know there is more to his game.

Count Pacific among the believers after Salahuddin scored a career-high 18 points Monday night in leading Long Beach State to a 77-70 Big West Conference victory before 3,412 at the Pyramid.

Salahuddin made four of five three-point shots, helping Long Beach, 7-4 overall and 3-1 in the Big West, win its third in a row. His three-point shot with 2:45 remaining gave the 49ers a 67-58 lead and sparked an exodus to the parking lot.

"I know I can score, that's just not my role right now," said Salahuddin, who began the game averaging 7.9 points.

Pacific Coach Bob Thomason has seen enough.

"He's been shooting a little better, but maybe I didn't expect for him to shoot as well as he did," Thomason said. "He was the difference in keeping them up big."

The Tigers (7-6, 2-3) led, 31-30, with 17:44 to go. But a three-point shot by Salahuddin sparked a 10-0 run.

"Rasul made the big threes for us," Long Beach Coach Seth Greenberg said. "I thought he was really solid."

The Big West's leader in steals, Salahuddin teamed with swingman Juaquin Hawkins to disrupt the shooting of Tiger guard Adam Jacobsen. Jacobsen scored 18 points and made four of five three-point shots, but it could have been much worse.

"They played good (man-to-man defense) on us," Thomason said. "But I don't think they did anything to us that we haven't seen. I just think we made too many mistakes."

The Tigers committed 21 turnovers. Hawkins had three steals and Salahuddin two.

Pacific also had problems getting shots off quickly.

"If there are five better defensive players in the country than Juaquin, they must be something," Greenberg said.

"He guards point guards, he guards forwards--he can guard anybody."

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