March 13, 2014
Anaheim, Calif. - Down 43-39 with 12:50 remaining in the second half, freshman Travis Hammonds sank two straight 3-pointers to switch the momentum, and Long Beach State pulled away from Cal State Fullerton to advance to the Big West Tournament semifinals with a 66-56 win over the Titans.
Mike Caffey led the 49ers with 14 points, but Long Beach State (15-16) had great balance, with Tyler Lamb scoring 13 points, Hammonds finishing with 12, and A.J. Spencer adding 10 to compliment a strong defensive effort for LBSU.
The win really started on the defensive end for the 49ers however. Long Beach State held Cal State Fullerton (11-20) to just 25 points in the first half, under 60 for the game, and held the Titans' top scorer, second-team All-Big West selection Michael Williams, to just 10 points on the day.
Long Beach State held the Titans without a field goal for almost six minutes to start the game, and held a 29-25 edge at the half, but the game looked to potentially be slipping away at the start of the second. The Titans took their first lead at 32-21 on a layup from Alex Harris. Five minutes later, another jumper from Harris, who finished with a game-high 17 points, put Cal State Fullerton in the lead by four, forcing Long Beach State into a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Caffey found Hammonds for a three-pointer, and then after a stop, Lamb was able to hit Hammonds out of the break to erase the deficit and give The Beach the lead back in less than a minute.
Long Beach State rode that momentum, getting out on the break for four straight transition baskets, taking a 55-45 lead, and held off the Titans with free throws down the stretch to advance to the semifinals, beating the Titans in the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
With two more quarterfinal games to be played Saturday in the Honda Center, (3) Long Beach State's opponent in the semifinals, as well as game time is yet to be determined. The 49ers will play UC Riverside at 6:30 p.m., if the Highlanders upset top seed UC Irvine. The other option is facing the winner of (5) Cal State Northridge and (7) Hawai'i, at 9 p.m. on Friday.
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