Orlando Johnson scored 20 points and James Nunnally added 19 Saturday night to lead UC Santa Barbara to a 69-64 victory over
Long Beach State
for the championship of the Big West Conference Men's Basketball Tournament and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
The Gauchos (20-9) won their second Big West tourney title in their second finals appearance and will be making their fifth NCAA appearance, the first since 2002.
The 49ers (17-16) were led by Casper Ware with 19 points.T. J. Robinson added 15 points and a game-high 8 rebounds.Greg Plater scored 14 points, making 4 of 11 shots from the 3-point line.Long Beach
was in its ninth Big West title game and lost for the fifth time.
UCSB led most of the game, by as many as 11 in the first half and by as many as 10 in the second half at 47-37.Ware had three steals and seven points to cap a 10-0 run that brought
even at 47-47 with 9:27 remaining.
After the first five minutes of the game, Long Beach’s only lead was at 53-52 after a Plater trey at 5:09.Johnson, the regular season and tourney MVP, hit two free throws at 4:50 to put UCSB back ahead for good.He scored the Gauchos’ next 6 points as well, resulting in a 60-57 advantage with less than 3 minutes left.
But Johnson committed three consecutive turnovers in a span of two minutes and Long Beach had a chance to tie when Robinson went to the foul line with 28.8 seconds left and the score, 63-61.He missed the first, made the second, and Long Beach had to foul.
James Powell, who had made 40 of 44 (91 percent) free throws this season, made a pair with 27 seconds left to make it 65-62.Ware missed a short jumper, Stephan Gilling rebounded but he charged into Jaime Serna. Powell was fouled again with 8.6 seconds left and made two more free throws.After a Larry Anderson layup, Nunnally iced the game with two free throws with less than a second to go.
Nunnally joined Johnson on the all-tourney team along with Ware,
and Robinson and UC Davis’ Joe Harden.
UCSB outshot the 49ers across the board, 44 to 38 percent from the floor, 35 to 24 percent from the arc and 88 to 75 percent at the foul line.The rebounds were even at 32 and UCSB committed 19 turnovers to 15 for the 49ers.
After Long Beach jumped out to a 7-2 lead, UCSB took control of the first half with a 17-4 run capped by back-to-back buckets by Johnson for a 19-11 lead at 11:30.The Gauchos twice extended it to 11 points at 27-16 and 33-22.A pair of 3-pointers by Plater and a Robinson bucket cut the deficit to 35-30 at the half.
UCSB received a scare when Johnson went down in pain after an awkward catch and turn in a fast-break opportunity with about 4 minutes left.After more than a minute on the floor, he was helped to the bench and returned for the final 2 minutes of the half.
The 49ers had to sit both
and Ware for several minutes with two fouls each.Ware also had to come out for a few minutes late in the game due to leg cramps.
2010 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament All-Tournament Team
Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara (MVP)
James Nunnally, UC Santa Barbara
Casper Ware, Long Beach State
Larry Anderson, Long Beach State
T.J. Robinson, Long Beach State
Joe Harden, UC Davis