Dec. 19, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. - There was plenty of intrigue, with Tyler Lamb earning his eligibility hours before tip-off, but the UCLA transfer came through for his new team in a 72-71 victory over USC in front of a thrilled standing-room only crowd of 4,410 in the Walter Pyramid Thursday night. Mike Caffey led the 49ers with 22 points, including the game-winner as Long Beach State prevailed in the first game against a Pac-12 school at home in over 10 years.
Lamb, who required all of his grades to be finalized before gaining eligibility, gave the 49ers a huge lift with his entry into the game. Long Beach State had already fought back from an early deficit to take an 11-8 lead on a Caffey layup, but after the first media timeout, Lamb entered for the first time for Long Beach State.
That changed the outlook for both the team and the game, as Long Beach State (2-9) took advantage of opened up play for a huge first half. The 49ers took a 14-10 lead on Lamb's first shot, a made 3-pointer, and then started to fly in transition. Finishing the half with a 14-0 advantage on the fast break over USC (7-4), Long Beach State took a 28-16 lead after a second straight 3-pointer with 9:02 to play.
Continuing to push, a breakaway dunk by Lamb kept the lead at 12 points at 32-20, and Long Beach State continued to take advantage of their chances, scoring 50 points in the first half to go into the break with a 50-36 lead. Lamb led the way with 18 points in the half, while Caffey and Branford Jones combined for nine assists running the break. That was the start of a big day of taking care of the ball for the 49ers, who finished with 17 assists and just 10 turnovers on the day with nine steals.
USC refused to go away in the second half, slowly chipping away at the 49er lead on improved shooting. Pe'Shon Howard led the Trojans with 19 points, including five threes while playing over 39 minutes, and brought USC all the way back. Long Beach State still led by ten points with 10:20 to play, but a four minute drought pulled the Trojans within two at 62-60 until Lamb again stretched the lead to four at 64-60.
Dan Jennings scored to put Long Beach up by six at 66-60, but the Trojans made one more run. With the 49ers leading 70-66 on a Caffey jumper, USC answered with a bucket from Omar Oraby, who was fouled on the play and made the free throw to bring the game within one. A steal by the Trojans led to a breakaway basket that gave USC a 71-70 lead with 1:11 to play.
Long Beach State answered with a defensive stop, and coming out of a timeout, handed the ball to Caffey, who drove the lane fearlessly to give the 49ers a 72-71 lead, and a rebound by Jones helped seal the win for Long Beach State on the USC end.
The win was the first at home over a Pac-12 school since December 16, 1999, when the 49ers had again won against USC. It was the first game against a Pac-12 opponent at home since the 2001-02 season, again against the Trojans.
Long Beach State remains at home this weekend, hosting Montana State-Billings at Noon on Saturday.
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