Page 2 From The Tournament: Moneke's Putback Sends Aggies To Finals
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March 9 - Bibbins' Mom Knows Best
March 8 - Fluker Breaks CSUN Scoring Record
March 6 - Field Preps For Walter Pyramid, Honda Center
by Jill Painter Lopez
Moneke makes last-second putback shot for OT win
Chima Moneke was in the right place at the right time at the most important time. He was under the basket on UC Davis' final possession of overtime in the Big West Tournament semifinals against Cal State Fullerton.
The game was tied, and Siler Schneider missed an outside shot. Moneke was all by himself under the basket, and he rebounded the ball and scored easily on a putback as time expired.
Unfortunately for Cal State Fullerton, no Titan was there to box him out.
"I knew when Siler shot the ball that there was time left," Moneke said. "I saw Khalil Ahmad watch the shot. He didn't box out, so I snuck in. I realized if (Siler) missed, I would get the offensive rebound."
Moneke always gets plenty of rebounds. He had his 13th double double of the season - with 19 points and 14 rebounds - in Friday's victory.
But none was more important than the rebound with two seconds left, and the shot that left his hands with one second left.
"That was part of their game plan," Titans coach Dedrique Taylor said. "They execute that well, to attack on the glass. Tip your hat to Moneke. That's what he does. I think he set a record with (18) rebounds (Thursday) and continued that (Friday). You look at the end-of-game stats, and the rebounding tells you who won."
UC Davis outrebounded Cal State Fullerton 48-40.
The final play surely looked easy to most, but UC Davis coach Jim Les won't take anything for granted. He wasn't surprised Moneke was there to make that play.
"We wanted the ball in Brynton (Lemar's) hands, and he made the right play to Siler, and Siler took the shot," Les said. "Chima has a knack and a nose for the ball. It's no coincidence he has as many double doubles and rebounds as he does. He's good at adjusting to the flight of the ball. He has quick-twitch muscles. His instincts, to get that up and stay calm and cool, is something we appreciate about him. For him to do it on this stage and at that time, (tells you) about what a big-time player he is."
UC Irvine block party leads to semifinal win over Long Beach State
They say defense wins championships, and that's a motto UC Irvine hopes will prove to be true.
The Anteaters played a tremendous game defensively, and Jonathan Galloway led that effort with five blocks. UC Irvine had 10 blocks as a team, with Ioannis Dimakopoulos adding two.
The Anteaters' 10 blocked shots ranks second-best in a game in Big West Tournament history.
"My job, or one of them, is to protect the rim," Galloway said. "If everyone is getting to their spots, that allows me to do my job and my other teammates to defend and stop the ball."
Galloway's five blocked shots is tied for fourth in Big West Tournament single-game history.
Long Beach State made just 31 percent of its shots in making 21 of 66 field goal attempts. The shots weren't falling against a stifling defense.
Big West player of the year Luke Nelson defended junior guard Justin Bibbins - who had 27 points in the quarterfinal win over Hawaii - well. Bibbins finished with 15 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Three of those shots were 3-pointers. Bibbins guarded Nelson and defended him well, too. Nelson made just 5 of 14 shots and scored 14 points.
UC Irvine made it difficult for the 49ers to get into any kind of a rhythm or get the offensive looks they wanted.
"We've scored all year," Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. "That's probably the best anybody has defended us. We're a team where we just need to get one or two guys going. We just needed to hold (them) to another 31. If we can keep people under 60, we feel we can beat anybody."
Bibbins eyes bright future for senior season
Long Beach State's bid to become the Big West Tournament champions and advance to the NCAA Tournament fell short with a semifinals loss to UC Irvine.
Still, Bibbins can look past the agony of defeat and look forward to the future.
"We've just got to change the culture of the program, and that's the exciting part," Bibbins said. "I always look at it from that point of view, and you know, that starts next week. I'll take the weekend off. We've got a freshman coming in that I believe will give us a different look on this team. We will be back next year, you've just got to look on the bright side of things."
Bibbins scored 42 points combined in the Big West Tournament quarterfinal win and semifinals loss, with a career-high 27 points coming against Hawai‘i.
UC Santa Barbara stuns top seed UC Davis in semis
UC Santa Barbara lost to UC Davis twice in the regular season, as all but one team in the Big West did, but they proved the third time is the charm. UCSB (16-15) used a dominant performance inside the paint, where it scored 40 points, along with terrific play from its guards to shock the Aggies.
"Even though we lost (in the regular season), we did feel confident that if we could get another shot at them and we could defend them in transition, we would give ourselves a chance to be successful," UCSB coach Bonnie Henrickson said.
UCSB was the fourth seed and arrives to Saturday's championship game with a quarterfinal win over UC Riverside and upset win over Davis in the semifinals.
Guards Drea Toler and Onome Jemerigbe, combined to score 44 points. Toler had 23 - many off baskets created by driving the lane - and Jemerigbe added 21. They used their speed in transition, and speed in defending, to fluster the Aggies.
The Gauchos have a rich tradition in postseason tournament play as they advance to the Big West Tournament championship game for the 17th time. They've won the tournament championship 14 of those times.
The last few years, however, had been a rebuilding effort, and no UCSB player on the roster has played in a conference tournament final.
"I'm just happy to be here," Jemerigbe said. "To have the opportunity to play in the championship game is mind-boggling."
This is the first tournament final for UCSB since 2011, when it advanced as the sixth seed.
"It was joy," Toler said of the locker room celebration. "We were so happy, but we have to remember we have another game. It's not over yet."
Davis went 14-2 to win the Big West regular season and lost only to Long Beach State.
Davis started the game on a 7-0 run with Toler on the bench. She came off the bench and immediately made a difference.
"No matter what was going on, I have a job to do," Toler said. "I needed to penetrate and just keep driving and taking it at them."
Final possession decides exciting CSUN-Long Beach State matchup
With Long Beach State nursing a one-point lead late in the game, CSUN's Hayley Tanabe rebounded the ball on the defensive end with 14 seconds left. Coach Jason Flowers called a timeout with six seconds left, and all CSUN needed was a basket to win the game or a free throw to tie the game.
The Matadors' out-of-bounds play called for getting the ball in to Serafine Maulupe. She dribbled and didn't see an opening to get the ball to Channon Fluker - the Big West's player of the year - in the high post, and she found an open Tanabe in the corner. Tanabe got the 3-point shot off before the clock expired, but it didn't fall, and Long Beach State celebrated. Tanabe crouched down with her head down.
"Last play of the game, I wanted to put the ball in the hands of Fina (Maulupe) and give her an option and let her make a decision," Flowers said. "I'll look at film and see how we executed. We had the option of her turning the corner. obviously, somebody was in the corner. And then we had a back screen for Channon rolling to the basket. I was watching the basket, so I didn't see (the whole play developing). I'll go back and kick myself in the butt regardless of what play I drew up if it didn't go in the basket. And I'll kick myself in the butt for that play. We'll all use this experience to get better moving forward."
The 49ers rightly expected that the Matadors would try to get the ball to Fluker, so they double-teamed her.
"We thought they were going to go to her considering it was a one-point play, so we subbed bigger players in, so instead of one 6-foot-1 player we had two 5-11s in," Long Beach State coach Jody Wynn said. "We tried to have someone behind her and in front of her. We gave up an open shot on the perimeter, but we were going to play the percentages."
With the solid defensive effort on the final play, Long Beach State held on to advance to the Big West Tournament championship against UC Santa Barbara.
UC Davis still has something to play for
After such a dominant march through the Big West Conference regular season, top seed UC Davis was upended in its first game of the conference tournament, a 73-59 semifinals loss to UC Santa Barbara.
After the disappointment of the sudden loss subsides, coach Jennifer Gross hopes they can concentrate on the postseason.
Davis receives an automatic berth in the WNIT by virtue of being the Big West champions.
"I told them how much fun it's been to coach them, and we're not done," Gross said. "Since our program has been Division I, it hasn't had a postseason (NCAA or WNIT) win yet. We can really make a mark on the record books. We can really make a splash in the WNIT. It's exciting for us all to know we have basketball left to play. It hurts. They were pretty down, obviously. We won't be playing in the NCAA Tournament, but we will be playing."
Davis put in a bid to host games, so it's possible it could play at home.