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Long Beach State men’s basketball advances to semifinals

Christian Gonzales, Staff Writer

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Prior to the game LBSU junior Justin Bibbins was reminded by his mother about how Hawai’i had eliminated the 49ers in the Big West Tournament the last two years.

 

Bibbins responded by scoring a career-high 27 points, as the LBSU pulled away in the second half to beat Hawai’i 73-62, on Thursday in the Big West quarterfinals at the Honda Center.

“On this team it doesn’t matter who is scoring,” Bibbins said. “If someone has a hot hand that night we go to him.”

The 49ers advanced to the tournament semifinals for the eighth time in nine years.

“It’s a good team win and this time of year we are just trying to survive,” LBSU head coach Dan Monson said. “We didn’t play perfect by any means. Justin [Bibbins] really set the tone for us mentally and he came out and was so aggressive offensively and really carried us until we got some other guys comfortable with the flow.”

No. 4 seed LBSU will now play No. 1 seed UC Irvine today at 6:30 p.m. in the Big West Tournament semifinals.

After early back and forth game LBSU had its first lead of the game at 23-21.

But Rainbow Warriors senior Noah Allen had a will to score the ball in the first half. He went on scoring stretch of 10 straight points that helped Hawai’i get a 35-33 lead at the half.

Hawai’i matched LBSU shot for shot in the opening minutes of the second half.

However, a LBSU scored five straight points to take a 44-39 lead thanks to a fast break layup from junior Barry Ogalue that forced a Hawai’i timeout.

Ogalue finished the game with 16 points and a perfect 7-of-7 from the field.

Hawai’i’s Allen had trouble scoring the ball in the second half and their head coach Eran Ganot noticed the 49ers defense troubled him.

“They [LBSU] did what they needed to do and made big plays down the stretch,” Ganot said. “We didn’t, they did and they deserve a lot of credit for that.”

Allen finished his career with 21 points, that was his 13th 20-point performance of the season.

The 49ers pulled away with the game after a 15-1 run that included sophomore Noah Blackwell 3-pointer to a 69-55 lead with 2:41 left.

After that Hawai’i players knew that time wasn’t on their side as LBSU dominating second half performance especially on the defensive end.

LBSU split the season series as UC Irvine and teams have split the last two games, each winning at home.

“We’ve got 40 minutes and we’re the team that has the opportunity tomorrow,” Monson said. “We’re going to prepare the best we can and play the best we can.”

A shocking stat that Monson wasn’t too worried about was the bench scoring after only contributing one point as a unit. He’s confident about his team being able to score after being one of the best conference’s offensive team.

The 49ers defense will look to disrupt the Big West regular season champions Anteaters, as both programs will be seeking to move on to the Big West Final.

 

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