Long Beach State def. Cal State Bakersfield in home finals – Orange County Register
LONG BEACH — Every collegiate basketball team has goals, no matter how far along the season is, and Long Beach State went into the final week of the regular season with many boxes that needed checking.
LBSU made the first Thursday night with a 77-61 win over Cal State Bakersfield in the Walter Pyramid behind the good teamwork of Lassina Traore (20 and 11 rebounds), AJ George (11 points), Marcus Tsohonis (11 points) and Aboubacar Traore (12 rebounds) and Amari Stroud and Jadon Jones (10 points each).
The win was the ninth in their last 14 games for Long Beach and has the team poised to wrap up the season with a crucial away game against UC Davis on Saturday afternoon. LBSU (17-14 overall, 11-8 Big West Conference) is a half game ahead of UC Davis (17-13, 10-8). Saturday’s winner secures sixth place in the parity-bound conference and doesn’t have to play an extra game in next week’s 10-team Big West tournament in Henderson, Nevada.
Long Beach won the regular-season title and reached the tournament title game last season, and despite many roster turnovers and four starters in their first year on the program, the team is not to be overlooked next week.
UC Santa Barbara (23-7, 14-5) and UC Irvine (21-10, 14-5) currently sit first in the conference, but Long Beach lost two close games to the Gauchos, losing by three and five points and shared his wild streak with UCI. UC Riverside (20-11, 13-6) and Hawaii (22-9, 13-6), both tied for second place, both defeated LBSU, but two of those four games came to an end. Long Beach defeated longtime rival Cal State Fullerton (18-12, 12-6).
Anything can happen in the tournament, and LBSU coach Dan Monson is hoping it all includes a title for his team.
“With all the injuries and the young lineup we’re starting, I was really happy with the way we came out and played,” Monson said. “That was probably our best first half defensively this season.
“With 13 turnovers, we created a lot of chances for our offensive and got off to a great start in the second half.”
An early 10-0 run gave Long Beach the lead, and the hosts ended the first half with a 12-0 streak for a 38-20 lead, keeping the Roadrunners at 28% shooting before the break.
Jones, who had a slow first half while playing with a pinched ankle, shot away by eight points in the second to stop any thoughts of a comeback from Bakersfield (10-20, 6-13). LBSU led by up to 24.
“I didn’t play the last game so I didn’t want to force anything, I was just trying to go with the flow and let the game come my way,” said Jones, who had two steals in his 20 minutes.
“I think we play good basketball. It’s important for us to play a full 40 minutes and leave everything out there.”
That Long Beach are in the hunt is surprising given the turnover and youth — the only senior on the team, Joel Murray, was feted before the game as a wrist injury sustained in January ended his season. There’s not much selfish play on offense, and unlike previous seasons, Long Beach has the advantage of five players who are at least six feet tall and can rebound, as well as good-sized guards.
“We’re not thinking about the future right now,” Monson said, “other than the future that’s ahead of us next week. We think we can make something out of it.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/03/02/long-beach-state-routs-cal-state-bakersfield-in-home-finale/ Long Beach State def. Cal State Bakersfield in home finals – Orange County Register