Senior Night Saturday As 49ers Close Out Regular Season Against UC Riverside
March 7, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: UC Riverside at Long Beach State
Long Beach State is locked into the No. 3 seed for the Big West Tournament; however, the opponent in the quarterfinals for the 49ers is still up the air pending Saturday's results; The 49ers will face either Cal State Fullerton or Cal State Northridge in LBSU's first game of the championship on Thursday, March 13 in the Honda Center.
With the final home game also comes senior night, and Long Beach State will honor their two seniors following the conclusion of the contest -- Edgar Garibay, lost for the season with an ACL tear, as well as Dan Jennings, who enters the game with three straight double-doubles and leading the Big West in shooting percentage.
With 18 points February 15 against Cal Poly, junior Mike Caffey blew past the 1,000 point milestone at Long Beach State, becoming the 23rd player to reach the pleteau. Caffey passed one more players Saturday with 19 points at Cal State Northridge, and now ranks as the No. 16 all-time scorer at Long Beach State.
Caffey received Preseason All-Big West honors, one of six players picked one season after earning First-Team All-Big West honors as a sophomore. Caffey is leading the 49ers in scoring with 16.3 points per game, ranking seventh in the Big West and has scored over 20 points 10 times on the year. Caffey is also leading the team with 126 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.6 boards per game. His 34.69 minutes per game average is also second in the Big West this season.
Senior Dan Jennings continues to put up big numbers for the 49ers in his final season. Jennings ranks fourth in the Big West in rebounding with 8.3 rebounds per game, and is third on the 49ers with 10.3 points per game. Four times Jennings has led the 49ers in scoring, and has topped the team in rebounding 20 times in 2013-14, including recording his eighth double-double of the year against Cal State Northridge with 12 points and 10 rebounds; his third straight double-double. Jennings also became the first 49er in two years to have a perfect day from the field, shooting 6-for-6 against Cal State Northridge on Jan. 25.
After scoring 12 points against Loyola Marymount, junior A.J. Spencer has secured a spot in the starting lineup, scoring in double-figures in 12 times. The junior college transfer helped lift the 49ers over Hawai'i on the road scoring a career-high 24 points, and is fourth on the team with an 8.8 ppg average.
Junior college transfer David Samuels picked up his second double-double of the year against UC Davis, putting up 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Aggies. Samuels finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds at NC State while recording his first double-double earlier in the season. His 5.2 rebounds per game rank 14th in the Big West, and second on the team behind Jennings.
The 49ers also bring in freshman Travis Hammonds, who joined Long Beach State after enrolling for the spring semester. Hammonds is a 6-6 guard who hails from Columbia, S.C., and had an outstanding game against UCI, leading The Beach with 12 points. His true breakout came against UC Davis however, scoring 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting with six rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead the 49ers over the Aggies. The true freshman picked up his first double-double at UC Irvine with 10 points and 10 rebounds, the third 49er of the year to record a double-double. Hammonds ranks fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 6.2 points per game with 2.9 boards per game.
Originally serving as a backup to Mike Caffey, Branford Jones forced his way into the starting lineup as an extra ball-handler against VCU, and responded with a breakout game, scoring 19 points in 37 minutes with just one turnover against VCU's havoc defense. The redshirt freshman is continuing to showcase much of the promise the guard showed before going down with an ankle injury in the first game of the year last season. Jones currently ranks seventh on the team in scoring, averaging 5.6 points per game and is second on the team with 52 assists.
THIS AND THAT
Long Beach State once again faced a grueling non-conference schedule. The 49ers faced No. 5 Arizona in their first road test on November 11, and continued to play two more Top 15 opponents in No. 14 Michigan and No. 10 VCU at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The 49ers also faced a Big East opponent into the Walter Pyramid when Creighton arrived December 3. The 49ers have also played Kansas State twice, beat USC at home, travelled to Washington and NC State, and closed out non-conference play with a trip to No. 25 Missouri.
Long Beach State's strength of schedule is also objectively among the highest - the 49ers closed out non-conference rank as having the No. 3 Non-Conference SOS as ranked by kenpom.com. The LBSU schedule was also ranked No. 2 by WarrenNolan.com at the conclusion of non-conference play.
With Long Beach State's win Dec. 19 against USC, Dan Monson moved into second-place in coaching wins at Long Beach State with 106, passing Seth Greenberg. Monson currently has 117 wins at Long Beach State. The top spot is held by Jerry Tarkanian, who won 122 games as the coach of the 49ers from 1968 to 1973.
ABOUT UC RIVERSIDE
Long Beach State had a hot shooting night in Riverside in the earlier meeting between the schools, with Tyler Lamb leading the team with 23 points while A.J. Spencer added 17, as the 49ers shot 49.2 percent from the floor and 52.2 percent from three in an 88-76 win.
UC Riverside is led on the season by center Chris Patton, who is averaging 13.8 points per game, and is second on the team with 6.1 rebounds per game.
The Highlanders' conference numbers are quite different from their non-conference number however ... Freshman Sam Finley leads the team with 15.3 points per game, coming off of the bench for UCR. Patton is still averaging double-figures with 14.6 points per game, while forward Taylor Johns adds 12.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
UC Riverside comes into Saturday on a two-game winning streak. The Highlanders won a wild 106-105 double-overtime game with Cal State Northridge last Saturday before ensuring their place in the Big West Tournament with a 78-65 win over UC Davis in two straight games at the SRC Arena.