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49er Men Back in Win Column After Dunk Fest vs. UC Santa Barbara

Mike Caffey

Jan. 5, 2013

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In a game highlighted by monster 49er dunks and points in the paint, the Long Beach State men's basketball team got back in the win column with a hard-fought victory over UC Santa Barbara, defeating the Gauchos 77-70 on Saturday evening.

LBSU (6-8, 2-1 Big West) notched their fourth straight victory over UCSB (3rd straight in Santa Barbara), while the Gauchos fell to 5-9 (1-2 Big West). It was an all-around team performance for the 49ers as they shot 54.2% from the field, their best field goal percentage since last season's game against Creighton (2/18/12, L, 81-79). In the first half, LBSU shot 53.3% and then followed that up by shooting 55.2% in the second.

"I think we showed a lot of character tonight and finally played as a team," said Head Coach Dan Monson. "Our focus and preparation were a lot better heading into tonight's game. We were focused defensively and played with more purpose when we were guarding their shooters. Even though they made nine threes, we were able to stay in the game and remain focused. We really wanted to focus on guarding their big man Alan Williams, and I think we did a great job frustrating him tonight.

"This team has a long way to go, but I'm really pleased with their effort tonight."

The 49ers absolutely dominated the paint, outscoring UCSB 52-16, including 10 dunks. For only the second time this season, LBSU was able to win the rebound battle as they grabbed 32 boards compared to UCSB's 31.

Four 49ers scored in double-digits as Mike Caffey led the way with 19. He also tallied nine defensive rebounds and five assists, while committing zero turnovers. James Ennis added 18 points, extending his double-digit scoring streak to 18 games. Tony Freeland added 15, equaling his career-best at LBSU, while Dan Jennings chipped in 13.

Up 41-31 as the second-half begun, an alley-oop dunk from Caffey to Ennis with 18:51 to play pushed the 49er lead to 45-31 early in the second half, but UCSB would go on a 14-0 run to tie the game at 45-45 with just under 15 remaining. A three by Ennis would break LBSU's scoring drought with 14:20 left (48-45).

Long Beach would continue to lead by single digits for over five minutes, a gap that UCSB would close to within one (55-54) with nine minutes to play.

Another alley-oop dunk, this time from King to Freeland, pushed LBSU's lead to 57-54 as Long Beach would go on an 8-3 run to extend their lead to 65-57 with five to play. The Gauchos would close to 65-61, but another dunk (Jennings) put LBSU up 67-61 with over three minutes left. UCSB made it a three point game with 1:30 remaining, but another Jennings dunk would put LBSU up 73-68. Jennings then fouled out of the game, putting UCSB's leading scorer Alan Williams at the charity strip where he could only make 1-of-2. A blocked shot by Ennis culminated in a dunk by Freeland, icing the win for the 49ers.

In the first half, the 49ers were up 8-5 early, but UCSB would go on a 13-2 run to lead 18-10 with 12:19 to play. The 49ers got back in the game with some strong defensive plays, while going on a 10-2 to tie the game at 20 all with 7:36 remaining. The Beach continued their scoring run to lead 25-20 after a monster one-handed dunk by Ennis with 6:05 to play. Then, a steal by Caffey pushed the lead to 27-20 with 4:43 left.

Back-to-back threes by UCSB would bring them within 27-26 at the final media timeout (3:48). LBSU would go on a 9-0 run punctuated by a three by Ennis to lead 36-26 with a minute to play. UCSB would score five more points in the half, but the Beach would go in to the break up by 10 after a hail mary three by Caffey at the buzzer was good (41-31).

Long Beach State shot 53% in the first half, while out-rebounding the Gauchos 18-14. They tallied three blocks and four steals in the first 20 minutes.

Up next, the 49er men return home to the Pyramid for two games as they host Cal State Northridge on Wednesday, Jan 9 at 7:05 pm and Hawai'i on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 4:05 pm.



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