Daily 49er

Crowd shows up like never before at Pyramid

A season-high 4,263 fans came out to watch Long Beach State play Cal State Fullerton on Thursday

The+Monson+Maniacs+showed+up+in+full+force+at+the+Walter+Pyramid+for+the+men%27s+basketball+game+between+Long+Beach+State+and+Cal+State+Fullerton+on+Thursday+night.+A+standing-room-only+crowd+of+4%2C263+filled+the+seats+and+walkways+atop+the+Pyramid.
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Crowd shows up like never before at Pyramid

The Monson Maniacs showed up in full force at the Walter Pyramid for the men's basketball game between Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night. A standing-room-only crowd of 4,263 filled the seats and walkways atop the Pyramid.

The Monson Maniacs showed up in full force at the Walter Pyramid for the men's basketball game between Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night. A standing-room-only crowd of 4,263 filled the seats and walkways atop the Pyramid.

Anthony Ibarra

The Monson Maniacs showed up in full force at the Walter Pyramid for the men's basketball game between Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night. A standing-room-only crowd of 4,263 filled the seats and walkways atop the Pyramid.

Anthony Ibarra

Anthony Ibarra

The Monson Maniacs showed up in full force at the Walter Pyramid for the men's basketball game between Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night. A standing-room-only crowd of 4,263 filled the seats and walkways atop the Pyramid.

Tracy McDannald, Sports editor

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I think the entire school was in the building for the men’s basketball game between Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night.

A season-high crowd of 4,263 packed the Walter Pyramid but it looked and felt like more than that. But maybe that’s just because I haven’t seen anything like it in the past two seasons.

Even hours before the game, fans on campus were passing out square, yellow fliers encouraging fans to attend the contest.

CSUF fans, who are known as “The Orange Curtain,” were seated behind the Titan bench at least 10 rows deep and made their presence felt vocally while just getting to their seats.

But then the Monson Maniacs walked through the student entrance like an army, or at least some of them looked like soldiers preparing for battle. Many showed up with painted faces, chests and were ready to bring the noise.

Not even timeouts could keep the Titans’ section quiet, as they were chanting “not im-press-ive” after the first 49er dance team performance.

By the midway point of the first half, it was standing-room only support by the LBSU fans, who were into it from the tip-off. I overheard a few stories about how long the line wrapped around the Pyramid for the student entrance.

I was thinking, “Is this the same Long Beach State? Is this really happening?”

The student section from both teams, which were facing each other on opposite sidelines, traded chants directed at each other back and forth.

Fans were hanging on every call — and missed call — from start to finish.

“Great to get the interest in the program,” LBSU head coach Dan Monson said. “Hopefully [the fans] saw the team we want to be. They were tremendous.”

At one end of the Pyramid behind one of the baskets, which reads “The Michael and Lisa Osborne Wing” in between the signs for the bathrooms, 49er fans packed the bleachers with additional spectators having to stand in the walkway at the top of section.

Then, seemingly every wing looked exactly the same — with fans draped along the railing.

“I haven’t seen it like that since I’ve been here. I liked the student section,” junior transfer Stephan Gilling said.

Thinking a great portion of the fans were made up of the student-athletes, I then saw a wave of players from the baseball, softball, men’s track, women’s tennis, women’s volleyball and women’s soccer teams — all Big West Conference champions — start to make their way down to the Walter Pyramid floor as the first half was closing to be honored during the break.

The most amazing thing: the stands were still full.

The crowd wouldn’t even sit down through the timeouts. At one point midway through the second half, fans in the Michael and Lisa Osborne Wing were treating it like a moshpit — even military pressing a brave soul in the air.

There also was a hotly-contested game keeping both sides interested.

With 4 1/2 minutes left, the Fullerton crowd erupted after a blocked shot-turned-fast-break layup knotted the score at 55.

With 1:09 to play down 57-55, ailing LBSU senior Donovan Morris brought the entire crowd to its feet with a pull-up jumper over Marcio Lassiter to tie the score.

Titans star guard and NBA hopeful Josh Akognon answered and momentarily silenced the 49er faithful on a jumper with 31 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing in-bounds play, the CSUF defense doubled Morris but he found Gilling in the corner, who drained a clutch 3-pointer without hesitation to give The Beach a 60-59 lead with 17.4 to play. The atmosphere was simply deafening when the ball rippled through the net.

But it was CSUF and its fans who would have the final reason to cheer.

Akognon hit a fadeaway jumper over the out-stretched hand of freshman Casper Ware to win the game with 3.9 seconds left — after which the Titans fans chanted: “We can’t hear you!”

What a game.

Just as amazing — what a show of fan support.

January may just be ending, but it felt like March on Thursday night.

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Crowd shows up like never before at Pyramid”

  1. Brian on January 30th, 2009 5:47 am

    that’s awesome man! For some reason it seems like CSULB basketball teams, when they’re playing well, are able to create the school spirit that CSULB is searching for.

    Good article.

  2. BBALL FAN on January 31st, 2009 1:53 pm

    It seems the real rivalry is between Fullerton and Long Beach! (Enough talk about UCSB and long beach being heated). I hope this rivalry keeps getting the fans out!

  3. CSUF fan on January 31st, 2009 3:24 pm

    Greatest atmosphere I’ve experienced in a Big West game since the 1980s. Best game experience in the CSUF-LBSU rivalry that I can remember. Both sides’ fans were outstanding. Game was sloppy, but what an ending!

  4. LBSU fan on January 31st, 2009 4:44 pm

    Nice write-up Tracy. That game definitely felt like what a real college basketball game is supposed to feel like…great to see the fan support for LBSU athletics. Keep it going!

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