Upset ‘Bruin’ in Anaheim
Four players score in double-figures as LBSU beats UCLA for the first time in school history
ANAHEIM — The 12th time was a charm as the Long Beach State men’s basketball team earned head coach Dan Monson his signature win at The Beach.
LBSU (4-3) was 0-11 all-time against UCLA (2-4) heading into Sunday’s seventh-place game at the 76 Classic, but the unbeaten streak ended as the 49ers defeated the Bruins, 79-68, at the Anaheim Convention Center.
“It’s a good step for our program,” Monson said. “We know that UCLA is in a rebuilding year, but we also know that it’s UCLA. And when you’re at Long Beach State, living down the street, it means a lot to our guys.”
Mr. Consistent, T.J. Robinson, turned in yet another impressive performance with his second consecutive double-double and his fourth this season. The sophomore finished with 25 points, also for the second consecutive game, and a game-high 13 rebounds.
“I knew we could beat them down the floor, because we are so much faster,” Robinson said. “Our speed really helped us get some points today. … I felt like we were going to win [for] the entire game, we punched them in the mouth real quick.”
For the second straight game, Robinson and Eugene Phelps were able to assert themselves down low for the 49ers. The pair combined for 23 rebounds as LBSU out-boarded the Bruins, 39-30.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland spoke highly of Robinson’s performance — as well as the 49ers’ — after the game.
“This was a disappointing loss, and we have to credit [LBSU],” Howland said. “They played really, really hard and were terrific. Robinson had 25 and 15 in the last game and then he has 25 and 13 against us … he is really a force in there.”
A total of four ‘Niners scored in double-figures in the contest, as Casper Ware turned it on to collect all 11 of his points in the second half.
“We actually had to switch [Malcolm Lee] on to Ware, because he was hurting us so bad,” Howland said.
Stephan Gilling finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field, while Greg Plater had eight of his 10 points in the first half.
The momentum changed in the first half when the 49ers drew a charging foul at the 4:08 mark of the period. Robinson had a layup fall, after spinning a few times on the rim, which led to a one-point advantage for The Beach.
LBSU would go down by one, but in the final possession, Robinson put back a Plater miss as time expired to take a 32-31 lead into the half.
After that point, the 49ers never trailed in the game en route to LBSU’s history-making victory.
UCLA tied the score on a 3-pointer by Lee less than a minute into the second half, but LBSU managed to push its lead to as much as 17 points on three different occasions.
Ware was able to halt many Bruin comeback attempts, as the sophomore continued to take advantage of an open lane throughout the second half.
Another key contributing factor in the win was the foul trouble that LBSU was able to create for the UCLA post players. Drew Gordon, who came into the game averaging 13 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, was reduced to just two points and one rebound in 12 minutes of Sunday’s contest because of early foul trouble.
The loss marks only the seventh time that a Big West Conference opponent has beaten the Bruins in 68 attempts. Cal State Fullerton also downed UCLA, 68-65, on Nov. 17.
LBSU will now take on its toughest opponent of the season, No. 3 Texas, when it travels to Austin on Dec. 7. The game will mark the third nationally-ranked opponent for the 49ers in four games. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Robinson made the 76 Classic all-tournament team after collecting 60 points and 37 rebounds in three games. Da’Sean Butler (West Virginia) – who also captured the tournament Most Valuable Player award – Kevin Jones (West Virginia), Gordon Hayward (Butler) and T.J. Campbell (Portland) joined Robinson on the team. … WVU who defeated the 49ers, 85-62, on Thanksgiving Day, won the 76 Classic championship after dispatching surprise tournament finalist Portland, 84-66.