The Long Beach State men’s basketball team dropped its final game of the season 71-51 to the hosts Pacific Tigers Saturday afternoon, on Pacific head coach Bob Thomason’s final game after 25 years at the helm.
"I'm not disappointed by how we lost tonight, but how poorly we competed," said Head Coach Dan Monson. "You have to play like a champion every day, like we did on Thursday versus Davis, and we didn't do that tonight."
James Ennis led the way for the Beach with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Deng Deng added 11 points. Although scoring only four points, Dan Jennings contributed defensively, grabbing nine rebounds, and blocking a shot.
Kaela King opened the game with a jumper for the Beach, which was quickly answered by a jumper by the Tigers’ Travis Fulton. Long Beach then went on a 7-0 run before Pacific, specifically Khalil Kelly, would respond with a 5-0 run of its own. Colin Beatty would then give Pacific a 10-9 with a 3-pointer.
The Beach could not score during Pacific’s run as the ‘Niners were held scoreless over a stretch of five minutes.
“We were just standing around,” Monson said. “We didn’t trust each other, and thus were going 1-on-1. When you have to go 1-on-1 you will get double-teamed.”
Long Beach finally broke the drought with two free throws by Tony Freeland to retake the lead 11-10. Both teams would trade leads before the Tigers would close out the half on an 8-0 run, punctuated by a jumper by Sama Taku at the buzzer to take a 31-22 lead going into halftime.
Taku finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Beatty added 10 points, while both Kelly and Fulton tallied seven points each.
Pacific broke the game open with an 11-0 run in the second half, but Mike Caffey would respond with a jumper to to start a 7-0 run to get as close as 45-34 with 13 minutes to play. Pacific then put the game away with a 16-0 run to take a commanding 27-point lead.
Despite the loss, which was the third in the final four games, Long Beach (18-12, 14-4 BWC) has already wrapped up its third consecutive regular season conference title and the top seed in next week’s Big West tournament where they will face Cal State Fullerton (14-7, 6-12 BWC) in the first round.
"In order to make NCAAs you have to focus as a team and play consistently. We are not doing that right now and that has me concerned,” Monson said. “The hardest part of a tournament is that you can't have any lapses. You have to be consistent and focused and we need to find how to do that in order to win three games next week."