Thursday, March 10, 2011

BWT Live Game Blog: Long Beach State vs. UCI 3/10/2011

Live updates from court side at the Honda Center (Anaheim, Calif.)

Well, Beach fans, here we go. For all intents and purposes, the 14-2 season that Long Beach State compiled over the last three months has been set aside, and though that success has earned them a shiny 'number 1' next to their name, they will still have to battle their way through the trenches if they want to cut down the nets in Anaheim and head to the Big Dance.

The first step toward that goal is a match up with the UC Irvine Anteaters, who, though they are the number eight seed, are one of two teams who beat the 49ers during the regular season, and were in fact the last team to beat Long Beach State. That game, Jan. 22 in Irvine, saw LBSU's defensive intensity fly out the window, and the 'Eaters' big three of Wise, Wilder and Moore score 66 of UCI's 86 points.

Since that game, Long Beach's defense has been on point, holding opponents to 61.3 points per game and a 40.4 shooting percentage. And defense is what the 49ers need to concentrate on to push their win streak to 10 games and keep their season going.

Keys to the game
Be ready to rock. Early game. Number 1 seed against the number 8 seed. Most likely a smaller crowd because of game time and day in the week. There are a lot of excuses as to why Long Beach State could come out flat. But they really can't afford to. Not that the player's don't know this, but one loss or slip up and the season is over, and they need to play 40 minutes of basketball with that intensity. The first time LBSU and UCI met, Long Beach had to over come a 22-7 deficit on the way to an 86-76 victory. There is no room for that kind of start in an elimination tournament. An early lead is pivotal for The Beach.

Lock down Wise. Eric Wise is a load in the lane for the 'Eaters. And Long Beach has to be careful when they double him, because many UCI players are spot up three point shooters. T.J. Robinson and Eugene Phelps need to play smart defense on Wise, and keep him off the offensive glass. Taking him out of an offensive flow early will be key for Long Beach, and that means active help from the guards as well disrupting his post presence. If Wise is contained, the Long Beach defense will be off to a good start.

Transition points. This directly correlates with defense, but Long Beach State is at its best when they are not only getting defensive stops, but forcing steals and turnovers and getting baskets in transition. When LBSU can get going on all cylinders, they are pretty tough to stop, and a lot of times, those runs will be made with very little in the half court. When Casper Ware is leading the charge, hitting pull up threes, and taking the ball to the rack, this team is going to be successful. The 49ers needs to get in that type of offensive flow to distance themselves from UCI.

5 minutes til tip
Crowd is starting to file in. The Maniacs rode in on three busses and are filling up a decent section on the far end away from where I am. Most of the Long Beach media is under the basket where the 49er bench is, so we'll have a good look at Long Beach defense in the first half, and offense in the second.

What an upgrade this venue is, very nice video board which looks like it will be showing replays. Both bands are fired up. This should be a good one.

Starting lineups:

UCI: Moore, Rembert, Starring, Losonsky, Wise
LBSU: Same lineup since day one: Ware, Plater, Anderson, Robinson, Phelps 

15:34 left in second half LBSU 2 - UCI 6
Irvine rips 5 early points, but Larry Anderson answers with a dunk in the lane.

Rembert has been aggressive attacking the lane early, but hasn't gotten much out of it.

Casper has taken a few quick threes but hasn't connected yet.

And Larry has just picked up his second personal foul. This is not quite the start Long Beach wanted.

12:26 left in first half LBSU 4 - UCI 13
Plater is fouled shooting a jumper and sinks both his shots at the line.

Game has a bit of a sluggish feel, neither team being successful on the offensive end. Long Beach finally turns up the defensive pressure a bit and forces a bad jumper at the end of the shot clock.

Again, Long Beach able to force a tough shot, with Eric Wise air balling a three, that's not his game. D coming around, but Long beach needs to put the ball in the net.

Moore drills a three after Long Beach doesn't get back on D. This start is eerily similar to when the two teams met at the Pyramid. Irvine is knocking down their shots and containing the drives of LBSU.

11:53 left in first half LBSU 7 - UCI 13
Larry Anderson is back in with his two fouls, and promptly drains a three. After Edis gets called for his second foul, we're at the under 12 media.

7:47 left in first half LBSU 15 - UCI 17
T.J. heads to the rack and is fouled, picking up the second on Wilder.

Darren Moore picks up his second foul, so he has to head to the bench as well.

The last three possessions T.J. has went hard to the rim and been fouled, he split his free throws the first two trips, and picks them both up on his third trip.

Well, if you can't make a shot, might as well head to the charity stripe to pick up your points. This time it's Casper Ware who is fouled and sinks both the freebies.

Just about everything UCI is doing is being called as a foul. Starring already has three personals.

A Nevens layup briefly tied the score at 15, but a putback by Simek gives UCI the lead again.

2:21 left in first half LBSU 27 - UCI 24
Long Beach has only made three field goal thus far, they are really surviving by some solid free throw shooting. Both teams have been called for a ton of fouls. It's at the least 18, and I think Long Beach has been in the double bonus for a while.

Phelps ends the field goal drought with a runner in the lane, Gene has been playing some solid defense on Wise.

And maybe Gene took the lid off, Casper just drained a three. And another.

Phelps just took a huge charge on Wise, with the 'Eater big man picking up his third foul in the first half.

3.3 second left LBSU 30 - UCI 29
Casper drilled another three, but Rembert answered with his own.

Long Beach holds for the last shot of the half, but Casper slipped on a pass from Plater and the ball sailed out of bounds. UCI calls timeout with 3.3 to go

Half-time LBSU 30 - 29
No miracle half-court shot and we're at the half.

UCI ends the half on a 5-0 run to pull within one point at half.

Half-time stats
Neither team could get much going offensively, Long Beach connected on only seven first half field goals, shooting only 31 percent. Irvine made nine field goals on 31 attempts, for a 29 percent first half mark. One factor that might be considered is that neither of these teams have shot in this gym, maybe that plus a bit of nervousness led to a sloppy half.

Long Beach had nine turnovers, something they will really need to limit in the second half.

LBSU really survived by converting at the line, they were 12-14 at the stripe. Those free throws were crucial when they were having difficulty putting the ball in the hoops, which was a majority of the half save for Casper's three point hot streak. Ware leads all scorers with 11, but he needed 11 shots to get those points.

14:58 left in second half LBSU 38 - UCI 37
After Wise is forced in to a turnover, Casper hits a transition three to start the second half.

With the amount of fouls Irvine racked up in the first half, Long Beach continues to attack the rim, Losonsky picks up his fourth foul.

Long Beach has put Casper on Darren Moore, and Ware is giving up a few inches on the bigger Irvine guard. Interesting to see how that match up shakes out.

12:19 left in second half LBSU 42 - UCI 46
UCI picks up three big offensive boards and eventually hits a three to take the lead.

Pace of the game has really picked up, with both teams trading baskets now.

Eric Wise with some nice moves early in the second half, and he makes sure the Long Beach bench knows it as she shoots a glare at the 49ers after pretty much every play.

10:35 left in second half LBSU 47 - UCI 46
Greg picks a good time to drain his first three, and after a stop on the defensive end, Edis feeds Larry for a nice layup.

UCI tries to slow down the tempo, but Long Beach ends up forcing a shot clock violation.

8:48 left in second half LBSU 47 - UCI 51
Irvine uses a few jumpers to go on a 5-0. Monson timeout.

6:46 left in second half LBSU 54 - UCI 57
Irvine is draining their threes this is really what Long Beach does not need.

Casper able to answer with a three of his own to stop the bleeding.

3:57 left in second half LBSU 62 - UCI 61
T.J. drives again and picks up Wise's fourth foul. Splitting the free throws.

Larry decides its go time and heads to straight to the hole, not sure anyone could defend that move.

Fouls becoming an issue for UCI, Wilder has four, Wise has four, Losonsky has four. Robinson again splits the free throws.

As fast as I can type, Losonsky fouls out.

Wise is back in and will shoot free throws after the media.

2:12 left in second half LBSU 67 - UCI 63
Ware hits a three, but then cramps up big time. Lin Chang and Mike Vantrimpont have to carry him off the court. Long Beach needs him back ASAP or sooner.

Wilder just fouled out. And Gene knocks down both free throws.

Greg with a clutch steal and gets fouled on the breakaway. UCI wants timeout.

1:20 left in second half LBSU 72 - UCI 68
Casper checks back in after Eric Wise hits a big and-1.

Just about every trip down the court is a foul, this time Rembert is fouled by Edis and heads to the line.

Gene goes hard to the rack and scores. This is getting serious here ladies and gents.

39.7 seconds left in second half LBSU 74 - UCI 72
Wise hits a jumper in the lane, and Casper answers. And then Wise hits another. Quick timeout by the Eaters.

30 seconds left LBSU 77 - UCI 72
Irvine hesitated to foul Phelps when they had the chance, he fed Casper and Cas fed Larry for the and-1

Larry with a HUGE STEAL and gets fouled sinking both shots. After a missed three and rebound Long Beach able to run the clock out.

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