March 14, 2013
Anaheim, Calif. -- The Long Beach State men's basketball team (19-12) is one step closer to defending its 2012 Big West Conference Tournament crown after defeating Cal State Fullerton (14-18) 75-66 in a quarterfinal game on Thursday evening at the Honda Center.
Long Beach advances to the semifinal game and will face No. 4 UC Irvine. The game will be televised live on ESPNU at 6:30 pm.
"Whenever you start a tournament, it's important to get that first game under your belt and survive, and we did that tonight," said Head Coach Dan Monson. "We had a few chances to blow the game wide open and couldn't do it. It was a grind for our guys tonight the entire game. You have to give credit to Fullerton because they were down their top two scorers and gave us a lot of problems.
"We are 80 minutes away from going to NCAAs and we need to put this game behind us and move on. This team is not good enough to look past any opponent. Playing in a tournament is a mental grind and you can't let foul trouble or the opposing team's style of play, or whatever, affect you. You have to fight through it and find a way to win."
The 49ers went into the halftime break up by 10 (41-31) as the team shot 53.6% from the field and 55.6% from the three-point line.
LBSU extended its lead to 12 to start the second half, but Fullerton was able to work its way back into the game, closing to within six (45-39) five minutes into the second half. The 49ers pulled away and pushed their lead back to 10, but CSUF would not go away as they would close to within five (54-49) with 10:30 to go.
The Titans closed to within four with 5:49 left on the clock, but the 49er defense would hold CSUF to just three points over the five and a half minutes of play as Long Beach would extend its lead to 12 points with one minute to play (71-59), going on to win 75-66 to advance to the semifinal game.
James Ennis led the team with 15 points as he recorded the 35th-consecutive game in which he scored in double-digits. He also added nine rebounds and a steal. Deng Deng added 12 points and one steal, while Peter Pappageorge and Mike Caffey each chipped in 10 points apiece. Dan Jennings led the team with 10 rebounds, one shy of his career-high.
As a team, the 49ers shot a season-high 58% (29-50), while CSUF shot 49%. LBSU crushed the boards, out-rebounding the Titans 37-18 in the game.
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