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Long Beach’s Defense Keeps Fullerton Shut Down, 79-70 : Basketball: The Titans suffer through a second-half dry spell while the 49ers go on an 18-3 run.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a fairly simple formula for success. Long Beach State played solid defense, shot well from the field and took full advantage of a devastating Cal State Fullerton scoring collapse early in the second half.

And, oh yes, Fullerton’s three-guard lineup was dwarfed by the 49ers’ 6-10, 6-7, 6-7 front line.

That was enough to carry the 49ers to a 79-70 Big West basketball victory before 1,547 in Titan Gym.

The Titans missed 12 consecutive shots from the field during that stretch, and the 49ers went on an 18-3 scoring tear, paving the way for victory after two consecutive losses.

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Long Beach (8-6) moved to 4-3 in the Big West. Fullerton (6-11) dropped to 4-5 in the conference.

“I felt that was the best execution of zone offense since the beginning of the season,” Long Beach Coach Seth Greenberg said.

The 49ers shot 54.5% from the field, 57% in the second half, the best shooting performance against the Titans this season. Long Beach also had a 47-31 rebounding advantage against a Fullerton team playing its second consecutive game without its tallest starter, 6-9 forward David Frigout, who is out with the flu.

Joe McNaull, Long Beach’s 6-10 center, was a key factor in the outcome. McNaull had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Reserves Tye Mays and Eric Brown also scored in double figures, Mays with 13 and Brown with 12.

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Fullerton center Winston Peterson had 21 points, but seven of those came at the free-throw line, and he was seven of 20 from the floor. Chris Dade had 17 points, but the other Titan guards struggled. James French, who has had a hot hand lately, went three for 15 from the field and finished with eight points. Chris St. Clair went three for eight from the field and finished with nine points.

“I thought we did a good job on Peterson,” Greenberg said. “You don’t stop him, you just slow him down.”

Peterson also gave credit to Long Beach’s defensive effort. “They’re really a big team and strong physically,” Peterson said.

Fullerton Coach Bob Hawking also believed his team had a difficult time dealing with the 49ers’ size inside, especially without Frigout.

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“They’re huge,” Hawking said. “Their off-guard was bigger than our power forward. That was evident in their rebounding and their power game.”

Hawking had no answer for the scoring lull that hit the Titans after halftime.

“We’ve had a tendency to go through some lulls this season,” Hawking said. “I thought we were getting some decent shots, but we need to focus on our second effort on the offensive glass when we miss. We don’t seem to get a lot of second shots. Long Beach seemed to get as many as they needed tonight.”

The Titans didn’t get their first field goal of the second half until David Harrison, who started at forward in Frigout’s spot, connected with 11:29 left. Until that point, Fullerton had managed only five free throws and Long Beach led, 53-34.

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“I hope we had something to do with them shooting like that,” Greenberg said.

Fullerton still trailed by 16 points with five minutes left but closed the gap to seven points at 74-67, but that was as close as the Titans could get.

The 49ers got off to a 10-3 lead, and the Titans drew even at 12-12, but Fullerton never was able to pull ahead in the first half. Brown had a hot hand and the Titans’ outside shooting turned cold, enabling Long Beach to build a 32-23 command with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first half.

The Titans managed six consecutive points late in the first half to cut the deficit to 32-29 at halftime. Danny Robinson’s steal and layup ignited the surge.

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