Long Beach St. 80, Utah St. 73
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Akeli Jackson scored a career-high 21 points as Long Beach State took over first place in the Big West with an 80-73 victory against Utah State on Thursday night.
Jackson surpassed his previous best of 19 points set last week against Cal State-Fullerton. James Cotton added 17 points, while Brian Yankelevitz had career highs of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Long Beach State (7-5) moved into first in the Big West with a 3-1 mark, while the Aggies dropped into second at 3-2.
Silas Mills led Utah State (9-7) with 19 points and Eric Franson, the Big West’s player of the year last season, added 18 points.
The 49ers trailed 38-37 at halftime before taking the lead for good, 57-46, on a 13-2 run with 13:13 to play. Rasul Salahuddin hit two 3-pointers in the spurt and Jackson added three points.
Two free throws by Jon Wickizer pulled Utah State to 74-69 with about a minute to go, but the 49ers converted five of six free throws to keep a comfortable advantage.
It was an emotional victory for Long Beach coach Seth Greenberg, who arrived at the Pyramid just 30 minutes before tipoff from New York, where he buried his father earlier Thursday.
Greenberg fought back tears in the game’s closing moments.
Ralph Greenberg died of cancer at age 71 on Monday. He was a former basketball player at Long Island University.
``My dad introduced me to this game at a very young age and always taught me to respect its values,″ Greenberg said earlier. ``He would have wanted me to fulfill my responsibilities to the game and to my team.″