Jan. 26, 2013
Playing its most complete game of the season, the Long Beach State men's basketball team notched its sixth straight victory, defeating UC Irvine 81-59 on Saturday evening behind a huge second-half performance by senior James Ennis. With the win, the 49ers continue to stand in first-place in the Big West, improving to 11-8 and 7-1 on the season. UC Irvine falls to 10-11 and 4-4.
The 49ers have not lost a Big West game in the Pyramid since 2010, with the streak now stretching to 21 games.
Ennis struggled in the first half and only played nine minutes as he was sent to the bench after picking up his third foul with five minutes left until halftime. He exploded offensively in the second half, draining four consecutive three-pointers to help push the 49ers to a 70-55 lead with just over four minutes to play. LBSU would then close out the game on a 19-4 run to keep its win streak alive.
"James was really frustrated after that third foul," said Head Coach Dan Monson. "But, he's been there before; struggling to get into rhythm and in early foul trouble. In the second half, shots started to fall for him and you could see his confidence start to come back."
Ennis ended the game with a team-high 17 points, making this his 24th-consecutive game in double-digit scoring. He was 6-of-9 from the field, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc. Ennis also added two rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal in the game.
He and three other 49ers scored in double-digits, marking the sixth-straight game that has occurred. Dan Jennings had a huge night as he chipped in 14 points and tied for the team-lead in rebounds with seven. Peter Pappageorge added 11 points, including two threes. Keala King rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10, and also tied for the team lead in rebounds (7).
As a team, the 49ers shot 57% from the field (29-51) and an impressive 58% from behind the arc (11-19). Long Beach is 4-0 when shooting 50% or better this season. The team held UC Irvine, which averages 72.0 points per Big West contest, to just 59 points and 38% shooting. Tonight's game marks the first time this season that the 49ers have held an opponent to less than 60 points. The LBSU bench also had a big night as they outscored UCI's 28-15. Long Beach also out-rebounded UCI 36-31.
"I was really scared about UC Irvine because I have a lot of respect for their program," said Monson. "They have a very balanced team and a lot of veterans and this was a big win for us. This was by far our best defensive game of the season, but we still have a lot of things we can improve upon."
Long Beach State continues their home-stand this coming week when it hosts UC Santa Barbara at 9:00 pm on Wednesday and Cal Poly at 4:05 pm on Saturday. The UC Santa Barbara game will be broadcasted live on ESPNews.
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