March 15, 2013
Anaheim, Calif. -- Long Beach State (19-13), the No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament, suffered a heartbreaking loss to No. 4 seed UC Irvine (20-14) on Friday night in a semifinal game. Despite the loss, the 49ers' season will continue in the NIT, with the field for that tournament being announced on Sunday at 6:00 pm (PT) on ESPNU.
Long Beach came out of the halftime break on a 13-5 run, keyed by back-to-back threes by James Ennis and back-to-back buckets by Tony Freeland, putting the 49ers up 41-34 with just under 16 minutes to play. Ennis was hit with his fourth foul of the game with 14:20 remaining, putting him on the bench for the 49ers. UCI then used a 7-2 run to close within 43-41 with 9:30 to play as Ennis checked back into the game.
Irvine would take the lead at 55-53 with 2:50 to play, and then stretch its lead to four, prompting LBSU to call timeout. Ennis would then foul out of the game with 1:24 remaining as UCI pushed its lead to six after free throws (57-61). Mike Caffey knocked down a three to bring LBSU within 63-60 as 30 seconds remained in the game, but the 49ers were unable to score again as UCI would go on to win 67-60.
Freeland and Keala King led the 49ers with 15 points apiece, while Mike Caffey chipped in 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Ennis tallied 11 points, marking the 37th-consecutive game in which he has scored in double-digits. LBSU shot 42% from the field, while Irvine shot 43%. The 49ers out-rebounded the Anteaters 40-28 in the game.
In the first half, Long Beach's offense was dormant, failing to score for nearly four minutes before a king lay-in put the 49ers on the board. Long Beach then went on an 8-0 to lead 8-5.
With the game tied at 18 (6:36 left), UCI would go on an 8-2 run to lead 26-20 with three minutes until the break. Long Beach would answer with an 8-0 run to take the lead at 27-26, but UCI would go back in front 29-28 after a three-point basket by Travis Souza. UCI hit what was at first deemed a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half (both teams went to the locker room), but after a review by officials, Irvine was called for a shot clock violation, and the teams were called back out to the court to play the final 0.8 seconds of the half.
Long Beach will find out on Sunday who its opponent will be for the NIT.
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