Nixon Leads Long Beach State to First Big West Tournament Title in 12 Years
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No. 1 LBSU vs. No. 2 CP Quotes
Tournament Most Valuable Player Aaron Nixon had 29 points and 11 rebounds, as Long Beach State earned its first Big West Tournament Championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1995 with a 94-83 victory over Cal Poly on Saturday night at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.
The 49ers will find out on Sunday their opponent and destination for the NCAA Tournament First Round, with the selection show airing at 3 p.m. PST on CBS.
Kejuan Johnson added 24 points for the 49ers (24-7), with Kevin Houston (17) and Mark Dawson (12) also scoring in double figures.
For Cal Poly (19-11), Chaz Thomas netted a game-high 31 points, Dawin Whiten scored 15 and Trae Clark added 10.
The lead went back and forth through the first five minutes. With Cal Poly's advantage at 3-2, the two teams traded the lead on the next five baskets, with Long Beach State coming away with a 7-6 edge. The Mustangs followed with a 7-0 run on two jumpers by Whiten and a three by Derek Stockalper to put them up 13-7 six minutes in. Cal Poly still led 19-13 before Johnson went on a personal 5-0 run to cut Long Beach's deficit to 19-18.
But Thomas responded with his own run of six unanswered points on an and-one play and a three to put the Mustangs back up 25-18. Cal Poly got its lead as high as 10 at 33-23 with three minutes to go before the 49ers closed with seven straight to make it 33-30 with a minute left in the first half. A layup by Clark ended the run and brought the halftime score to 35-30 in favor of Cal Poly.
It only took 36 seconds into the second half for Long Beach State to tie the game, as Dominique Ricks' basket and Johnson's trey squared the game at 35. Cal Poly netted four straight to re-take the lead, but five in a row by Long Beach gave them a 40-39 advantage, its first lead since 7-6. That sparked a 12-2 run by the 49ers to give them a 47-41 advantage.
Cal Poly held strong and took the lead back with a 10-2 spurt to make it 51-49 Mustangs, but Nixon came back with five straight to give Long Beach a lead it would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Titus Shelton cut it to one on a layup, but 10 straight by the 49ers, including six by Dawson put Long Beach State up 64-53. In all, the 49ers went on a 23-7 run from the 13-minute mark to the five-minute mark to take a 72-58 advantage with five minutes remaining. Long Beach's lead never dipped below seven the rest of the way before eventually winning by 11.
The 49ers recovered from a dismal 31.6% (12-for-38) shooting performance in the first half to making 17-of-30 (56.7%) after intermission, finishing the game at 42.6% (29-for-68). Long Beach State made 28-of-33 (84.8%) from the line, including 25-of-29 (86.2%) in the second half.
The Mustangs shot 44.3% (31-for-70) for the contest, but made just 8-of-28 (28.6%) from three-point range and 13-of-20 (65%) at the free throw line.
Big West All-Tournament Team
MVP - Aaron Nixon, Long Beach State
Trae Clark, Cal Poly
Scott Cutley, Cal State Fullerton
Bobby Brown, Cal State Fullerton
Mark Dawson, Long Beach State
Derek Stockalper, Cal Poly