Casper Ware led the 49ers with 23 points
March 10, 2011
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Casper Ware and Larry Anderson showed why both were named first-team All-Big West Conference earlier this week. The duo combined for 41 points including some clutch plays down the stretch to lead top-seed Long Beach State past eighth-seed UC Irvine 79-72 at the Honda Center in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament on Thursday.
Ware paced Long Beach State (21-10) with 23 points, making a career-high six 3-pointers despite being sidelined late in the game with leg cramps. Anderson added 18 points, T.J. Robinson scored 15 and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, and Eugene Phelps had 12 points including a huge basket with 1:20 to play. Robinson scored 11 of his points at the free-throw line shooting a career-high 18 free throws.
UC Irvine (13-19) built a 61-57 lead with less than six minutes to play but the 49ers went on a 22-11 run in the final 5:16 to extend their winning streak to 10 games, while also avenging their last loss. Anderson keyed the late run scoring the first two points and the last five points for LBSU. Ware added six points in the final 3:04 with his biggest basket coming when he canned a three to give Long Beach State the lead for good, 65-63. After drilling the three, Ware crumbled to the ground with cramps and left the game after Robinson rebounded a miss at the other end and was fouled.
Ware was carried off the floor by a pair of 49ers where he received treatment while the 49ers added to their lead taking a six-point lead, 69-63, with 2:12 to play on two free throws by Greg Plater.
Eric Wise (23 points) responded at the other end with an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the lead to three with two minutes to play. Ware returned to the lineup, and despite being hobbled, hit a free throw with 1:47 to play to push the lead back to four, 70-66.
Patrick Rembert (19 points) hit two free throws at the other end to cut the lead to two, but Phelps turned in his biggest play of the game slicing to the basket to score and put the 49ers back on top by four. Wise scored with 1:10 to play to make it a two-point game again, but Ware hit a pull-up jumper inside the free throw line to extend the lead to 74-70. After another Wise hoop cut it to two again, Anderson scored and was fouled finishing a three-point play to put LBSU up 77-72. Anderson capped it with a steal on an errant UCI pass. He was fouled and made two free throws to ice the game with 23 seconds to play.
Both teams started the game struggling on offense. Long Beach State made just three of their its 13 shots and UCI wasn't much better connecting on just 5-of-17. The Anteaters built a nine-point lead early, 13-4, but LBSU rallied scoring 11 of the next 13 points to tie the game at 15.
UCI finally scored again on a put-back by Peter Simek snapping a four minute and six second scoring drought and a four minute and 39 second drought without a basket. Wise followed another missed shot to push UCI's lead back to four, but LBSU went on a 15-five run to build a 30-24 lead with two minutes to play in the half. Ware was the catalyst in the run making three straight 3-pointers in a span of two minutes and 10 seconds. UCI steadied its self scoring the last five points of the half on a three by Rembert and a hoop by Mike Wilder to go into the locker room down one.
The 49ers made just 7-of-22 shots (31.8 percent) in the half, while the Anteaters hit 9-of-31 (29 percent). Long Beach made 12-of-14 free throws to take the lead into the half.
Ware opened the second half with a three and Robinson hit 1-of-2 free throws to give LBSU a five-point lead, but UCI scored the next six points to take a 35-34 lead. The teams traded the lead four times, with two ties, over the next 10 minutes setting up Long Beach State's late run to victory.
The 49ers advance to Friday's semifinals where they will play the lowest remaining seed at 6:30 p.m. at the Honda Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
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