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Long Beach State men’s basketball team holds off Hawai’i

LBSU dominates the paint to secure fourth place finish in Big West.

Junior+guard+Justin+Bibbins+attempts+to+crossover+a+Hawai%27i+defender+Saturday+at+the+Walter+Pyramid.
Junior guard Justin Bibbins attempts to crossover a Hawai'i defender Saturday at the Walter Pyramid.

Junior guard Justin Bibbins attempts to crossover a Hawai'i defender Saturday at the Walter Pyramid.

Christian Gonzales

Christian Gonzales

Junior guard Justin Bibbins attempts to crossover a Hawai'i defender Saturday at the Walter Pyramid.

Christian Gonzales, Staff Writer

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With the game out of reach, Long Beach State men’s basketball’s lone senior Anson Moye nailed a free throw to cap the 49ers’ win on senior night Saturday against Hawai’i.

The men dominated the paint Saturday at the Walter Pyramid to beat Hawai’i, 84-75, as sophomore Temidayo Yussuf was a perfect 9-for-9 from the floor, finishing with 23 points.

With the victory, LBSU (14-18, 9-7 Big West) finishes fourth in the Big West Conference and will match up against the fifth place Hawai’i (14-15, 8-8) on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. in the Honda Center for the Big West Tournament.

It’ll be the third time the two teams face each other this season.

On Saturday night, the 49ers went straight to Yussuf early and often throughout the game as LBSU had a 19-15 lead in the first eight minutes.

“He [Yussuf] is going to be a force inside,” LBSU head coach Dan Monson said. “He certainly has proved that down the stretch.”  

Going inside early led to easy ball movement for the 49ers. LBSU had eight assists on its first nine field goals made.

“My teammates believe in me,” Yussuf said. “They give me opportunities in the game. The more they feed me the more I see that they believe in me.”

But streaky shooting from the Rainbow Warriors team beyond the arc cut into LBSU’s lead, as Hawai’i made 6-of-8 3-pointers to give them a 28-26 lead.

At halftime, the 49ers had a 45-39 lead, only allowing Hawai’i to score eight points inside the paint.

After recent second-half struggles, the 49ers had no problem holding off Hawai’i.

The 49ers never gave the Rainbow Warriors a chance to lead or tie the game.

LBSU got help from sophomore guard Noah Blackwell as he drained five 3-pointers in the game, three in the second half. He finished with 17 points in 6-of-10 shooting.

The 49ers will now prepare to take on Hawai’i in a game that will be a rematch of last year’s Big West Tournament championship game.

“It will be a great game on Thursday,” Monson said. “They have taken us out of the tournament the last two years and that will be something I do remind our guys about. This is a team that has ended our season the last couple years and we have to rise up to that and take that challenge on Thursday.”

The 49ers are ticking at the right time in March and have seemed to find what it will take to win the Big West.

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