Page 2 From The Tournament: Bibbins' Mom Knows Best
March 8 - Page 2 From The Tournament: Fluker Breaks CSUN Scoring Record
By Jill Painter Lopez
Bibbins goes for career-high 27 points after motivational text from mother
Long Beach State's Justin Bibbins had a career-high 27 points Thursday in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals. His day started by waking up to a motivational text from his mother. She referenced Long Beach State's loss to Hawai‘i in the Big West Tournament last year by sending him a photo of him with his head down, after that loss. The message was to avoid such a feeling.
"It said 'not this year.' I'm happy to finally get that off our back and get a win against them," Bibbins said.
Long Beach State was ousted by Hawai‘i in the conference tournament the last two years.
Bibbins scored 19 of his career-high 27 points in the first half to lead No. 4 Long Beach State to a 73-62 quarterfinal win over No. 5 Hawai‘i, the defending Big West Tournament champions.
"Justin really set the tone for us mentally, of being in a different season and different look," Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. "He came out and was so aggressive offensively and carried us until we could get the other guys comfortable and in a flow."
The teams were tied at 54 in the first half, but the 49ers then went on a 12-1 run to build a 66-55 lead that they would never lose. Bibbins drove the lane and scored on a jumper to start that run.
Bibbins, a junior guard, made shots early, and his teammates were getting him the ball.
"I just tried to get it within the offense," Bibbins said. "It opened for me early. I hit two quick jumpers. The bigs set screens on the pick-and-rolls. That's what's great about this team, it doesn't matter if it's me or (any other guys). It doesn't matter who is scoring or whoever has the hot hand. (Thursday) was my night."
Bibbins produced from the field and from the free-throw line. He made all nine of his free throws Thursday and has made his last 21 consecutive free throws.
"I'm happy. I've been putting in a lot of work this past week at the free-throw line," Bibbins said. "It's nice having it show out there."
Moneke dominates with career-high 18 rebounds in UC Davis victory over Cal Poly
Chima Moneke, the Big West's newcomer of the year, continued to have a dominant impact for UC Davis on the boards. Moneke had a career-best 18 rebounds and added 11 points for his Big West-leading 12th double double of the season.
Moneke's big day helped the Aggies (20-12) to a 66-55 Big West Tournament quarterfinal victory over Cal Poly.
"I feel rebounding is something I look forward to every game," Moneke said. "It's my favorite part of the game ever since I started playing. I knew they would scout me well offensively. I had to impact the game in other ways."
His shot wasn't falling as he missed 11 of 15 shots, but he made up for it on the glass and also had two blocked shots.
Moneke's rebounding performance, which included five offensive rebounds, was so great that his 18 rebounds tied for second-most ever in a Big West Tournament game.
When a tournament official announced that statistic, Davis coach Jim Les and teammate Brynton Lemar clapped. Brynton said: "we've got you."
When Les noticed no one else in the audience was clapping, he told Moneke: "They're media. They're not allowed to clap."
Moneke, who wears his trademark glasses and headband, nodded.
He led the Aggies in the rebounding department, but his teammates were adept as well. Davis outrebounded Cal Poly 47-31. It was the noticeable difference in a close game.
"I thought it was huge," Les said. "When they were at our place, I thought they physically took it to us on the boards. I reminded them about that challenge. Chima was in pursuit of the ball. He got balls out of his space, in traffic. The 50-50 balls were huge ... He knew we needed a monster effort from him on the boards. Eighteen boards is pretty stellar."
Both teams were cold from the field, but the noon start could've been partly to blame. Moneke - also named first-team all-Big West - liked the early start just fine.
"We usually practice at this time," Moneke said. "It's phenomenal we did that."
UC Irvine keeps rolling in Big West Tournament with seniors Nelson, Martin
The Anteaters and success are commonplace in the Big West Tournament. The trend continued with seniors Luke Nelson and Jaron Martin, who each scored 19 points to lead top seed UC Irvine to a 76-67 victory over No. 8 UC Riverside in the quarterfinals.
UC Irvine won its sixth-consecutive Big West Tournament quarterfinal game, and since the conference tournament is the only guaranteed way to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, that's an important step each season.
"I don't believe our guys feel pressure," Irvine coach Russell Turner said. "They understand. These guys are veterans. We played for the (regular season) championship at home ... This tournament is an extension of what we do."
And the postseason has been an extension of what Nelson - the Big West's player of the year - has done. He made shots early and often and made an acrobatic, fall-back 3-pointer with 23 seconds left in the first half to give the Anteaters a 10-point lead. Nelson scored 14 points in the first half.
"From my four years, this is the game I love and every game I try to give my best," Nelson said. "As I said, I want to make the (NCAA) Tournament one more time. I missed most of the season and had a short one, so I'm just trying to do with I can to help my team win."
The Anteaters are 13-2 with Nelson in the lineup.
They improved to 20-13, marking the fifth consecutive season that Irvine has won at least 20 games under Turner. The last conference team to do that was former member Utah State from 1999-2005.
Martin has had a lot to do with this success as well, and he scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. That's when Riverside was making its move and cut the lead to three points with 8:52 left.
"I just wanted to lead," Martin said. "That's my duty as a senior, getting these guys calmed down."
Cal State Fullerton wins first Big West Tournament game at Honda Center
The Titans were 0-5 at the Honda Center in Big West Tournament games before Thursday. That losing streak was broken under Dedrique Taylor as Cal State Fullerton beat CSUN 81-68 in the quarterfinals.
The last time the Titans won a Big West Tournament game was in 2010 when it was at the Anaheim Convention Center.
"I just told our group we're going to go enjoy it for a couple of hours, and then we are going to turn the page," Taylor said. "We came here to continue to move forward and earn the right to play (Friday). I think that will make a difference on who wins and who loses."
The Titans (17-13) broke the conference tournament drought by virtue of its three guards - Tre' Coggins, Lionheart Leslie and Kyle Allman - who combined to score 69 points.
Coggins scored 21 points and had his third consecutive 20-point game. He leads the Big West with 13 20-point games this season. Allman and Leslie each scored 24 points. Allman made all seven of his free throws, and Leslie had six steals.
"It always feels good to win in the postseason," Taylor said. "We did what we needed to do."
Jackson Rowe (foot injury) missed the quarterfinal game and is listed as day-to-day.
Shipley ends Cal Poly career with strong impression
Cal Poly senior Ridge Shipley fouled out via technical foul to end his career at Cal Poly, but that's not what coach Joe Callero wants him to remember.
Shipley was in tears when he fouled out in the waning seconds after scoring 19 points, and Cal Poly lost to No. 2 seed UC Davis, 66-55.
Shipley's career has left a lasting impression on many.
"I think what Ridge showed is that he has confidence," Callero said. "Three years ago as a freshman, he had the guts and confidence to knock down a shot at the top of the key to give us the lead to go to the NCAA Tournament. Through the next three years, he had to battle. I thought his senior year he did a wonderful job not worrying about what you have done, but what can you do? It was his best as a leader, as a player, as a defender and emotionally. Then he used his confidence to step up and make big shots and big plays."