Jan. 17, 2013
The first-place Long Beach State men's basketball team was pushed to the limits on Thursday evening as they needed overtime to get past a pesky UC Riverside squad, defeating the Highlanders 91-82. With the win, LBSU improves to 9-8 on the season (5-1 Big West), setting up a pivotal match-up with Cal State Fullerton on Saturady. The Highlanders fall to 4-13 (1-4).
Facing their first overtime game of the season, the 49er offense and defense came alive, shooting 71% from the field, while holding UCR to just 33%. Long Beach State outscored UCR 16-7 in the overtime period, keyed by back-to-back threes by James Ennis and Peter Pappageorge.
"It's no question that we have a hard time playing here," said Head Coach Dan Monson. "You have to give credit to UCR because they were without their top guard and they put on a clinic. We couldn't guard anybody and weren't disciplined when we got the lead.
"It was good to see us play our best defense at such a critical time because all of the momentum was in UCR's favor after sending the game into overtime."
For the fourth consecutive game, four 49ers scored in double-digits, led by a season-high 18 from Keala King.
"Keala is a talented player, but we have to keep him focused on the task at hand," added Monson. "Sometimes he tries to do too much and gambles. We just try to get him to settle down and he did a great job in the second-half for us."
Ennis chipped in 17 points, posting his 22nd-consecutive game in double-digit scoring. He was 5-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 from the three-point line, perfect from the charity strip (4-4), while leading the team in rebounding (7). He also had five assists and five steals.
Mike Caffey hit double-digits again, his sixth consecutive game, adding 13 points to the 49ers total. He led the team with seven assists. Tony Freeland rounded out the double-digit scorers, chipping in 15.
As a team, the 49ers shot 51.6% from the field, which was the third time above 50% this season.
Early in the second half, the 49ers would take a five point lead after two made free throws by Dan Jennings (50-45), their largest lead of the game. The Highlanders went ahead 57-56 with 6:55 to play. LBSU would retake the lead, keyed by back-to-back threes by Caffey and King, to give Long Beach a 66-62 edge with 4:51 to play.
Up 70-68, a crucial steal by Ennis with 1:45 remaining would give LBSU the ball. A King jumper would push the score to 72-68 with 1:01 to play. Then, a foul by Riverside would put King at the free throw line where he would make 1-of-2 and put LBSU up 73-70. Jennings would then foul out with 34.0 seconds left, but the Highlanders could not convert a free throw.
Up 73-70 with nowhere to go, Ennis inadvertently threw the ball away, setting up a Riverside score to make it a one-point game with 15 seconds to play (73-72). A foul by the Highlanders would put Ennis at the free throw line, where he made both to put LBSU up 75-72 with 14 seconds to play. The Highlanders would tie the game and send it to overtime after a three by Chris Harriel.
Long Beach shot 52% from the field in the second-half, improving on their first-half percentage of 47.
UC Riverside opened up the first half on an 8-2 run, prompting Long Beach to do a complete line change, pulling all five starters. With the reserves in, the 49ers were able to tie the game at 13 all, but UCR would go on a 6-0 run to lead 19-13 with just over 10 minutes to play.
LBSU would answer with their own 6-0 run, tying the game at 19 all. UCR would pull in front, and the 49ers would tie the game up on several occasions, before Kyle Richardson gave LBSU their first lead at 29-27 with 3:28 to play. The Highlanders again would answer and with the game tied at 31 all, Long Beach called a timeout to set up a final play with 30 seconds left on the clock. Ennis buried a three to put LBSU up 34-31, but Riverside answered with a buzzer-beating three to tie the game at the break.
Both teams liked the three-point line in the first half, as LBSU took 16 shots (made 4) and UCR had 12 (made 5). The teams combined for 57 shots from the field in the first 20 minutes of play.
The 49ers will continue their road swing on Saturday when they take on Cal State Fullerton at 6:05 pm.
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