Live updates from court side at the Honda Center (Anaheim, Calif.)
We're back in Anaheim, with hopefully all the cramps worked out of Casper Ware's calf, for the No. 1 seed Long Beach State 49ers will look to return to the Big West Tournament Championship game for the second time in two years. Standing in their way are the UC Riverside Highlanders, who will face off with LBSU for the third time in the last 30 days.
The previous two meetings were won by Long Beach State, but both games Long Beach built early leads and then tried to coast to victory, which UCR would have none of. In a March 2 contest at UCR LB led by as much as 19, but an unresponsive defense from The Beach allowed the Highlanders to pull within one in the final minutes before the Niners were able to pull away with a 82 - 76 victory.
Yesterday, UCR defeated No. 2 seed Cal Poly in over time, the Highlanders were led by
Keys to the game
Play 40 minutes of 49er basketball. Long Beach came out way too anxious yesterday. And while that helped on the defensive end, it made running any semblance of offense difficult. With a victory under their belt, LBSU needs to come out ready to play today, but that aggression needs to be refined and controlled. Long Beach controlling the tempo is key. Especially after UCR comes off an emotional and exhausting overtime game, if LBSU can run on them it will be huge.
In yesterday's quarterfinal game, it seemed Long Beach could not clear a rebound when it needed to most. UCI hit the offensive glass hard, and LBSU will need to severely limit those boards by the Highlanders. Getting a defensive rebound out quickly gives Ware, and Larry Anderson time to operate in the front court, and when a defense is not set, they are tough to contain.
In the last meeting with UCR, Long Beach's defense was pretty lackadaisical. Instead of trying to get stops on the Highlanders, LBSU seemed pretty content to just try and score more points than their opponent, which ended up working, but is not the key to Long Beach success. Defensive stops and transition points are what the 49ers need to do to dominate this game. Would be interesting to see what would happen with a bit of full court press against the Highlanders, who average 14 turnovers per game.
20 minutes til tip
The Maniacs rode in on seven buses. And slowly they are all filling in, the one section relegated to the Long Beach Students can barely contain them all, and I know there are more coming. The crowd to this point is certainly in favor of the 49ers. Even the Carrot Top and Zach Galifianakis big heads made the trip.
There are even more Maniacs here. Almost too many, there was some confusion which seats to occupy because the main student section is already full. The Long Beach students have really made this a home away from home. If the 49ers can get going early this crowd will get real loud.
Casper gives a pump up to the Maniacs and we're ready to rock.
UCR: Borum, Nioto, Martin, Bradshaw, Shearry
LBSU: Usual suspects; Ware, Plater, Anderson, Robinson, Phelps
17:09 left in first half LBSU 9 - UCR 0
Greg Plater starts the game off with a triple in the corner.
LBSU defense forces a bad shot and Larry leads a fast break and-1.
The bench is jacked up. The students are jacked up. And after T.J. spins in the lane for an easy bucket, Jim Woolridge needs a timeout. 9-0 to start the game.
15:27 left in first half LBSU 14 - UCR 0
Maybe a little too anxious. Casper gets a steal but is called for an offensive foul.
But then T.J. makes a highlight reel bucket plus the foul. Robinson is fouled again heading to the rack and he'll shoot free throws after the media.
The energy on the Long Beach side of things is pretty incredible right now. We'll see how long LBSU can keep this shutout going.
11:22 left in first half LBSU 24 - UCR 10
UCR finally cracks the scoreboard with a three by Borum. And then Martin adds another three.
Martin gets a big dunk, but hangs on the rim, gets a technical and then has to be helped off the court. Talk about adding insult to injury...
In the 'Who has the yellowest shoes battle' Brandon Nevens may have one upped Larry Anderson tonight. Brandon may have wore out a few highlighters.
Plater hits his second three coming off a curl. And then another. Plater has nine early points, naturally all on threes.
What a spark Brandon Nevens is, he got a steal and breakaway layup, and then went for a steal and threw the ball off a UCR defender making it Long Beach ball after the break.
7:05 left in first half LBSU 26 - UCR 18
Casper picks up his second foul and has to head to the bench, not as big of a deal when you're already up 14. Long Beach just needs to play within themselves and they should be OK.
The camera man under our basket is getting abused, one ball landed right on top of his head, and then another just hit off his camera
UCR has cut it ten and now eight. And Monson wants timeout. The focus that there early for the Niners has dissipated a bit.
3:49 left in first half LBSU 31 - UCR 22
After the timeout, Ware checks back in and is fouled attacking the basket, sinking both free throws.
It was almost a blown defensive assignment by Plater, but it ended up being a steal for Greg, fast break and three point play for T.J. Robinson.
Half-time LBSU 40 - UCR 28
Wooldridge just got T'd up. He has a lot to be upset about, but I think his latest gripe was an offensive foul call. And Greg sinks both the free throws.
Borum drills another three, he leads the highlanders with 11.
After an airball by UCR, LBSU holds for the last shot, and Anderson drains a three for the corner and gives a salute to the Maniacs and we're at the half.
For the second straight day, the free throw line is the big difference for Long Beach State. Riverside only shot two free throws. The Niners shot 17, connecting on 14.
Both teams end up shooting an identical 11-26 from the field (42.3 percent). Long Beach was 4-9 on threes, UCR 5-9.
Robinson and Plater each have eleven points to pace the 49ers. Long Beach has the edge on rebounds, with 18 total to UCR's 12. Seven of those board for LB were offensive.
Long Beach came out about as hot as possible, but then calmed down considerably, mostly trading baskets with UCR. That said, Long Beach is still up 12.
17:10 left in second half LBSU 45 - UCR 30
Nice give and go by Larry and Greg creates a seperation three for Plater. A steal and finish by Anderson and UCR wants timeout.
15:51 left in second half LBSU 50 - UCR 32
After an airball by the Highlanders, Cas hits a transition three, for his first shot from downtown. If you had told Long Beach fans Ware would only have seven points to this point, not many would have guessed The Beach would be up by 18. LBSU's balanced scoring really shining tonight.
11:31 left in second half LBSU 56 - UCR 36
Greg Plater has done a nice job locking up Borum, he had 13 first half points, and is yet to score in the second period.
Casper knifes through the defense and feeds Larry for a reverse layup. And that queues the 'Up By 20' chant by the Maniacs.
9:03 left in second half LBSU 56 - UCR 42
UCR is really being stiflied on defense, and they have been completely relegated to shooting outside jumpers.
Casper having an uncharacteristically rough night at the line, he's 4-8.
Those jumpers start to fall a bit more for UCR, they are on a 6-0 run and Coach Monson wants time.
6:24 left in second half LBSU 59 - UCR 49
Larry drills another three giving him 17 for the game.
A dunk by Brown and the lead is cut to 10.
3:52 left in second half LBSU 62 - UCR 51
Greg hits a big three in front of the bench to stop a UCR run.
Shearry fouls out after hitting Anderson on a runner. Under 4 minute media.
2:13 left in second half LBSU 64 - UCR 58
Nitoto misses a free throw, but UCR ends up getting the offensive rebound. The energy that Long Beach had early isn't there, and the highlanders cut the lead to eight. And now six. Monson calls time.
Pretty similar to what happened at Riverside a few weeks ago, Long Beach was up big and sort of took their foot off the gas pedal. They need a solid two minutes here to finish this game off.
1:32 left in second half LBSU 67 - UCR 60
Casper hits a three from the corner but is matched by a Riverside jumper.
58.4 seconds left in second half LBSU 69 - UCR 61
Ware sinks a pair of free throws and then pulls down a defensive board, forcing Riverside to begin fouling, but Larry misses the one and one, and then commits a foul on the other end. Riverside hits the first free throw and then calls timeout.
38 seconds left in second half LBSU 69 - UCR 63
LBSU not doing themselves any favors to ice this game by missing free throws, Phelps missed both.
And then Casper picks up a foul on the other end. Luckily Martin has missed his last three as well.
Now T.J. picks up a foul going for a rebound. Will this one ever end?
21.2 seconds left in second half LBSU 74 - UCR 63
Borum still can't crack the scoreboard in the second half, missing a jumper and then fouling Casper. Larry the latest to be fouled. This should just about do it.
FINAL LBSU 74 - UCR 63
The fans rise and cheer as Larry holds the ball to run the clock out. We'll see you tomorrow night in the championship game!