March 14, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. -
Game: Long Beach State vs. Cal State Northridge
Date: Friday, March 14, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m.
Location: Anaheim, Calif.
Arena: Honda Center (18,336)
TV Talent: Mark Jones, Miles Simon
Radio: KBEACH.org; HD 88.1-3
Radio Talent: Rob Brender
Live Stats: bigweststats.com
Long Beach State enters its Conference Tournament semifinals for the 22nd time in school history, facing Cal State Northridge at 9 p.m. on Friday Night in the Honda Center. The 49ers are searching for their 11th trip to the championship game, and the school's 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Under Dan Monson, Long Beach State has been a Top 3 seed for the Big West Tournament in each of the last six years. The 49ers have also reached at least the semifinals all six times, six straight following Monson's first year at Long Beach State in 2008.
Junior Mike Caffey was selected as a First-Team All-Big West choice for the second straight season after leading Long Beach State to a 10-6 Big West record and leading the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. Caffey joins a short list of 10 other players to be a two-time First-Team All-Conference selection, and with one season remaining, Caffey can join Larry Anderson, Francois Wise and Ed Ratleff as the only LBSU players to become a three-time First-Team All-Conference honoree.
Rob Brender returns for his fifth season of play-by-play for Long Beach State. His audio call can be found at kbeach.org and on 88.1-3 HD Radio or via the KBEACH Radio App.
All games of the Big West Tournament will be shown on national television. Long Beach State's semifinal game will be shown live on ESPNU, and Saturday's championship game will be carried on ESPN2.
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 plateau. Caffey passed one more player last Saturday with 19 points at Cal State Northridge, and now ranks as the No. 16 all-time scorer at Long Beach State.
Caffey is leading the 49ers in scoring with 16.1 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 133 assists, and is third in rebounding with 4.5 boards per game. His 34.57 minutes per game average was also second in the Big West this season.
Tyler Lamb, a junior transfer from UCLA, became eligible for the 49ers on December 19, and has immediately had a huge impact. Lamb scored 20 points off of the bench against USC, helping the 49ers earn their first win over a Pac-12 opponent at home since 1999 in a 72-71 win. Lamb has scored in double-figures in 18 of the 21 games he's played with the 49ers, led the team in scoring eight times, and is averaging 15.3 points per game.
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 8.5 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 21 times in 2013-14, including recording his ninth double-double of the year against UC Riverside with 10 points and 13 rebounds; his fourth straight double-double to close the year. 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 5.1 rebounds per game ranked 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 6.6 points per game with 3.1 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 5.7 points per game and is second on the team with 57 assists.
THIS AND THAT
Long Beach State will finish the regular season with 19 games broadcast on either national television or on the ESPN networks. That marks the most regular season total television appearances ever for Long Beach State, and the most national appearances since the 2011-12 campaign, equalling that season with 14. Any and all Big West Tournament games will also be shown on national television.
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 119 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 CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Despite Cal State Northridge having been a Big West member since the 2001-02 season, Friday's game marks the first meeting between the two teams in Big West Tournament history.
Cal State Northridge advanced to the Big West Tournament quarterfinals with an 87-84 overtime win over Hawai'i Thursday. Josh Greene scored a game-high 27 points, including going 9-for-9 from the free throw line.
Cal State Northridge ranks 10th in Divison I in free throws attempted, with 886 entering the Big West Tournament. A solid portion of that number came in the last meeting between the teams, as Cal State Northridge attempted 39 free throws, making 34 in a 91-83 win at the Matadome.
Stephan Hicks led the Matadors in that game on March 6, scoring 28 points, going 13-for-13 from the line. Hicks is one of three Matadors averaging over 15 points per game. Hicks is averaging 17.1 points per game, while Stephen Maxwell leads the team at 17.7, while Josh Greene is scoring 15.6 points per game.
Long Beach State won the first game between the teams in the Walter Pyramid on January 25, taking down the Matadors 76-62. Dan Jennings finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Mike Caffey led all scorers with 23 points.
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