Long Beach State one win away from clinching top seed
After falling at home to Stephen F. Austin during BracketBuster weekend, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team is looking to bounce back and regain some momentum.
With at least a share of the regular season Big West Conference title already wrapped up, LBSU (17-10, 13-2 Big West) will attempt to become the outright champion when it returns to conference play Saturday at UC Irvine (16-13, 9-6).
James Ennis, who was recently named one of 25 finalists for the Lou Henson award (given to the best mid-major player in the country), will look to extend his double-figure scoring streak to 33 games.
The senior guard is averaging 17.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks a night. The numbers are good for fourth, ninth, fourth and third in the conference, respectively.
After the loss on Friday night, LBSU head coach Dan Monson said his team can learn from the experience and continue to improve as it closes out the regular season with three road contests.
“We’re still three games up with three to go in our league,” he said. “We need to get better. Offensively we need to move and play for each other, trust each other. If we can correct some of this stuff and it makes us better going in, then watch out for us.”
The Anteaters, currently tied with Hawaii for third in the Big West standings, are anchored by senior guard Damon Starring, who averages 13.6 points a game and shoots 44.3 percent from beyond the arc, good for third in the conference.
The ‘Niners defeated Irvine, 81-59, at home last month. Ennis carried The Beach to the blowout win, scoring a team-high 17 points – all in the second half and including five 3-pointers – after The Beach led by just five at the break.
Will Davis II paced UCI, earning a double-double with a game-high 18 points and 12 boards. The sophomore forward is 10th in the conference with 6.5 rebounds per contest.
The Anteaters rank 14th in the country in assists and 23rd in rebounds.
Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. at Bren Events Center, and the game will be televised on Fox Sports West.