Anaheim, Calif. - Justin Bibbins scored a career high 27 points with six assists in an effort that will go down with some of Long Beach State's best Big West Tournament performances, leading Long Beach State to a win over Hawai'i 73-62.
Hawai'i (14-16) had knocked out the Beach in the previous two tournaments, including in the championship game last season, but Bibbins carried the load for Long Beach State (15-18) Thursday night, scoring 19 points in the first half and shooting a perfect 9-for-9 from the stripe to help lock down the victory.
"I thought Justin set a great tone for us mentally," said head coach Dan Monson following the game. "He was aggressive offensively, and really carried us until we could get some other guys into a flow."
Tied 11-11 after the first eight minutes, the Rainbow Warriors went on a 6-0 run to take their largest lead of the game, but a three from Noah Blackwell stemmed the tide, and Long Beach State would eventually tie the game at 21-21 after a three from Bibbins.
Hawai'i would go into halftime leading by two, but a 49er team with a different look came out for the second half. A Barry Ogalue layup quickly tied the game, and a three by Noah Blackwell put the Beach up for good at 42-39, as the Beach opened the first half on a 11-4 run.
Long Beach State maintained a slim lead through most of the early part of the second half, but Hawai'i continued to hang around, and tied the game at 54-54 with just over nine minutes remaining.
The Beach responded with one of their best defensive stretches of the year, holding Hawai'i to just one free throw over the next seven minutes, opening up a 15-point lead. A dunk from Ogalue in the closing minutes was the exclamation point on a 19-2 run that broke the game open for good.
"I think Barry Ogalue has really helped us [defensively], with more size and length out there. I really thought that his deflections and his activity -- his emergence has helped us," said Monson. "Quentin Shropshire has given us energy on that side of the floor, as has Mason Riggins. Our bench isn't scoring a lot, but they're really helping us defensively."
Bibbins was joined in double-figures by Ogalue, who had 16 points as well as Blackwell who had 11, while Temidayo Yussuf neared a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.
Long Beach State advances to the semifinals with the win, facing top seed UC Irvine at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and then shown on ESPNU on tape delay.
"They won this league, and they've proved over the course of the season that they're the best team in this league, and they're playing really well right now. Somebody's going to have to go out and change and make some adjustments or they're going to win this tournament" said Monson regarding the Anteaters. "We've got 40 minutes, and we're the team that has the opportunity tomorrow. We're going to prepare the best we can and do the best we can to take advantage of that opportunity."
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