Top-seeded Long Beach State, fifth-seeded UC Santa Barbara, #7 UC Riverside and # 3 seed Cal State Northridge rode their stars to wins as the clubs advanced to the semifinal round of the 2011 ampm Big West Tournament.
#1 Long Beach State Sneaks By #8 UC Irvine In ampm Big West Tournament First Round Action
Junior guard Casper Ware scored 23 points and junior guard Larry Anderson added 18 as the top-seeded Long Beach State men’s basketball team weathered an upset bid by No. 8 UC Irvine to advance to the semifinals of the 2011 ampm Big West Conference Tournament with a 79-72 victory against the Anteaters inside the Honda Center on Thursday afternoon.
With its victory, Long Beach State advanced to face a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Friday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
UC Irvine (13-19), which split its regular season series versus Long Beach State (21-10), led as late as 63-62 with four minutes remaining following the second of two free throws by junior forward Eric Wise. Ware, however, nailed one of his six three-pointers a minute later and the 49ers sank eight of nine free throws down the stretch to preserve victory.
UC Irvine, which received 23 points from Wise and 19 from senior guard Patrick Rembert, led for the opening 16 minutes until a Ware three-pointer provided Long Beach State a 24-22 lead. Wise tied the game with a follow-up jumper moments later and, despite two additional threes from Ware, Long Beach State led at the break, 30-29.
Long Beach State, which fell in last year’s championship game versus UC Santa Barbara, also received 15 points from junior forward T.J. Robinson. UC Irvine senior guard Darren Moore led all players with nine rebounds.
Defending Champion #5 UC Santa Barbara Cruises To Win Over #4 Pacific, Advances To Semifinal RoundOf ampm Big West Tournament
Orlando Johnson scored 32 points and James Nunnally added 19 Thursday afternoon as #5 UC Santa Barbara advanced to the semifinals of the ampm Big West Conference Tournament with a 79-67 win over #4 Pacific.
Proving once again how difficult it is to beat a team three times in the same season, it was the Tigers who won the two regular season meetings between the clubs, picking up a 57-54 victory at home on January 8 and a 74-68 win at the Matadome on February 3.
After Pacific (16-15, 8-8) jumped out to an early three-point advantage with 5:31 gone in the first, the Gauchos (16-13, 8-8) countered by scoring the next 10 points taking a lead they would never relinquish.
A Troy Leaf three-pointer with 39 seconds to go pushed the UCSB lead to double figures at 32-20, and the team's carried that same score into the locker room.
The Gauchos limited the Tigers to just 26.9 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes of play including 2 of 11 (18.2%) from three-point range. UCSB countered by making 44.0 percent of its shots in the first half including 6 of 11 (54.5%) from long range.
UC Santa Barbara continued to put distance between itself and Pacific after the break thanks to an offense that combined to go 17 of 24 (70.8%) from the field. The Gauchos posted their first 20-point lead, 69-49, with 5:59 left on the clock.
UCSB still led by 20, 73-53, with five minutes remaining, and although the Tigers scored 14 of the final 20 points, it wasn't enough to prevent the Gauchos from advancing to the Big West semifinals for the fourth straight season.
Johnson finished the game nailing 11 of 19 shots including 4 of seven from three-point range and all six of his free throws, while Nunnally went seven of nine from the floor and 3 of 4 from long distance.
Allen Huddleston paced the Tigers with 21 points. He was joined in double figures by Demetrece Young (15) and Terrell Smith (12).
#7 UC Riverside Upsets Second-Seeded Cal Poly In First Round ampm Big West Tournament Game
Guard Kareem Nitoto's three-point play with 14 seconds left in overtime on Thursday night put the Highlanders in the lead for good as the seventh-seeded UC Riverside men's basketball team upset second-seeded Cal Poly 70-66 in a first round matchup at the ampm Big West Tournament at Honda Center.
The upset victory propels UC Riverside (12-18) into Friday's semifinals against top-seeded Long Beach State (21-10) at 6:30 p.m. Guard Shawn Lewis hit four three-pointers and scored 18 points for Cal Poly.
Nitoto scored a game-high 23 points, making all three of his three-point attempts while guard Javon Borum had a pair of treys in the extra period for UC Riverside, finishing with 15 points.
Nitoto's two free throws with just four seconds left in regulation tied the game 55-55 and forced overtime as the Mustangs were unable to get a good look at a three-pointer at the buzzer. Cal Poly trailed 57-55 early in overtime before Dylan Royer - who hit four three-pointers and scored 14 points off the bench - hit consecutive treys sandwiched around one from Borum, giving the Mustangs a 61-60 lead.
UC Riverside later went down 66-65 after Royer made a wide-open layup with 34 seconds remaining. However, the Highlanders ran the clock down, Nitoto drove along the baseline and was fouled while making the go-ahead points with 14 ticks to go.
He made the ensuing free throw and Phil Martin blocked Shawn Lewis' three-point try with two seconds on the clock. Daymond Cowlah made a pair of charity shots to ice the game after being fouled.
UC Riverside made 4 of 6 from beyond the arc in the first half while holding Cal Poly to just 1 of 9 as the Highlanders took a 28-23 halftime lead. The Mustangs, though, scored nine of the first 13 points of the second half to the game 32-32.
Lewis later scored five straight points for Cal Poly to help it go up 42-37 and the Mustangs were later up 52-48 with 3:11 to go before Nitoto made a layup and then two free throws to tie the game 52-52 with 2:22 left.
David Hanson hit a three-pointer with 29 seconds left as Cal Poly took a 55-53 lead, setting up Nitoto's game-tying free throws with four seconds remaining.
Hanson had four treys and scored 16 points for the Mustangs who had 13 three-pointers in the game. Martin scored 12 points for UC Riverside.
#3 Cal State Northridge Runs By #6 Cal State Fullerton In First Round ampm Big West Tournament Game
Forward Lenny Daniel scored a game-high 19 points, guard Vinnie McGhee added 16 and third-seeded Cal State Northridge jumped out to a quick 12-1 lead on Thursday en route to a 75-54 win over the sixth-seeded Cal State Fullerton men's basketball team in a quarterfinal round game at the ampm Big West Tournament at Honda Center.
The Matadors (14-17) advance to Friday's second semifinal where they will face fifth-seeded UC Santa Barbara (16-13) at approximately 9 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPN2. Top-seeded Long Beach State (21-10) plays seventh-seeded UC Riverside (12-18) in the other semifinals.
The winners will advance to Saturday's nationally televised final on ESPN at 5 p.m.
Foward Orane Chin led the Titans (11-20) with 15 points while Jer'Vaughn Johnson had 11 and Orlando Brown added 10.
Cal State Northridge never trailed in the game, opening a double-digit lead less than five minutes in, stretching it to 43-28 at halftime and then leading by as many as 23 points in the second half.
The Matadors shot 50 percent (24 of 48) from the field iin the game, outrebounded the Titans 41-34 and blocked eight shots, including three each from Lenny Daniel and Jordan Mitchell. Daniel also shared game-high rebounding honors with teammate Michael Lizarrago; both players pulling down nine.
Cal State Northridge led 2-1 in the game's first minute but scored 10 unanswered points, including four each from both Daniel and Dathan Lyles, to lead 12-1 with 15 minutes, 38 seconds left in the first half. Trailing 14-2, Cal State Fullerton rallied with eight straight points, including seven points from the free throw line, to cut the deficit to just 16-11 with 11 minutes remaining.
However, the Matadors scored five straight, opened the lead again to double-digits and didn't let the Titans get closer than 11 points after that. They enjoyed their biggest lead 64-41 with 9:36 left in the game.
Cal State Fullerton shot just 33.9 percent (19 of 56) from the field and was 26.7 percent (4 of 15) from beyond the arc. It also made just 12 of 27 (44.4 percent) from the line.
Lizaarraga added 10 points for the Matdors who were 11 of 21 from the field in the second half.