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Men's Basketball

No. 1 LBSU, No. 3 UCSB Square Off In Big West Men's Championship Game For Third Consecutive Year

Links associated with this release:
2012 Big West Men's Basketball Tournament Central

3/9/2012

So they meet again. No. 1 Long Beach State and No. 3 UC Santa Barbara won their semifinal matchups Friday night to set up a third straight meeting in the Big West Men's Championship game. The title match will take place Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcast live coast to coast on ESPN2.

No. 1 LBSU Advances To Third Consecutive Big West Men's Basketball Title Game

Casper Ware scored 22 points and James Ennis added 13 to lead Long Beach State to a 68-57 victory over UC Irvine Friday night in the first semifinal game of the Big West Conference Tournament.
 
The No. 1-seeded 49ers (24-8) survived a cold shooting first half to advance to the championship game Saturday night.  No. 7-seeded UCI (12-20), which upset No. 2-seeded Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, got 15 points each from Michael Wilder and Damon Starring but finally fell to the 49ers' defensive pressure during a 14-0 Long Beach run in the middle of the second half.   UCI had led at the end of a see-saw half, 28-27, but Long Beach shot 59 percent in the second half.
 
T. J. Robinson and Mike Caffey each scored 11 points for Long Beach, which outrebounded UCI, 39-22.  Ennis and Robinson each had 10 boards for Long Beach. Chris McNealy had 11 points and 5 rebounds for UCI.
 
The 49ers' win was their third of the season over the Anteaters.   Long Beach again played without three-time All-Big West first-team guard Larry Anderson, out with a knee injury.
 
Ware got 15 of his points in the first half on 5-for-10 shooting while his teammates made only 4 of 22 attempts for 28 percent as a team.
 
Ware opened the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer but a goal tending call and Starring’s trey put UCI back on top, 33-30.  Two more UCI treys countered a pair of Edis Dervisevic deuces and it was 39-35 UCI at 15:30.  Back-to-back treys by Ennis and Caffey around a steal put Long Beach back on top to stay at 45-43 at 13:26.   Robinson scored twice around another UCI turnover and soon it was 53-43. A McNealy free throw at 8:57 and subsequent layup ended the 14-0 run and got UCI within 7 points but was as close as it would get.
 
Irvine got off to a fast start.  A 3-pointer from McNealy and a 4-point play from Wilder led to a 9-0 lead when Long Beach missed its first 8 shots on its first 5 possessions.  Ware finally put the 49ers on the board with a trey at 16:47 and then made a steal and layup.  After a Wilder layup, Ware had a 3-point play and Ennis hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 11.  Caffey hit a trey to give the 49ers their first lead at 14-13 about 8 minutes into the game.
 
Long Beach pulled away to a 4-point advantage but Starring hit a trey to tie at 22 at 5:05. Wilder’s 3-point play tied it again at 25 at 3:36. Two Robinson free throws at 2:49 gave Long Beach a 27-25 lead but Wilder hit a 3-pointer for a 28-27 lead and the halftime score.
 
Irvine made 46 percent of its first-half shots and committed only 7 turnovers to offset a 23-13 49ers advantage on the boards.

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No. 3 UC Santa Barbara Downs No. 4 Cal Poly, Aims for Big West Three-Peat

Orlando Johnson scored 20 points and James Nunnally had 13 as No. 3-seeded UC Santa Barbara pulled away in the last five minutes for a 64-52 win over Cal Poly Friday night in the second semifinal game of the Big West Conference Tournament.
 
The Gauchos (20-9) will play No. 1-seeded Long Beach State at 7 p.m. Saturday for the championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.   It’s the third year in a row the schools have met in the finals and the Gauchos are two-time defending champions.
 
The No. 4-seeded Mustangs (18-15) got 19 points and 6 rebounds from David Hanson and 11 points from Amaurys Fermin but lost to UCSB for the third time this season.
 
Johnson scored 10 of his points in the final 7:37 as UCSB finished with an 18-5 run.  The Gauchos used an 8-0 spurt to turn a precarious 50-49 lead into a 58-49 advantage.  Johnson had a 3-point play at 4:19 and a clinching 3-point basket at 1:30 to bracket two Christian Peterson free throws.
 
UCSB made 6 of 6 free throws in the final 34 seconds after missing a pair of one-and-ones that gave the Mustangs life.  Alan Williams led all rebounders with 10.
 
Cal Poly held its only lead of the second half at 47-46 at 9:01 on two Chris Eversley free throws.  It shot only 30 percent from the floor in the second half and made only 3 of 12 3-point tries.
 
UCSB's biggest lead of the game was 5 points until the final 3 minutes.
 
UCSB has won seven Big West Tourney games in a row to trail only the record 10 by UNLV in the late 1980s.  The win gave Coach Bob Williams his fourth 20-win season in 14 years at UCSB.
 
Cal Poly took an early 13-8 lead after a Hanson 3-pointer nine minutes in.  The Mustangs took their biggest advantage at 23-15 on another trey by Hanson.  But a 3-pointer by Keegan Hornbuckle and a back-to-back pair by Johnson pulled UCSB within 25-24 and a Cal Poly turnover led to a Kyle Boswell layup for a 26-25 Gaucho advantage.
 
A 3-pointer by Fermin returned the lead to the Mustangs at 29-28 at 2:35 and Hanson added a short hook shot to make it 31-28.  UCSB got a jumper from Nunnally and an acrobatic bank shot at the buzzer by Johnson to take a 32-31 lead into the locker room.
 
The halftime statistics were as close as the score.  Both teams shot 46 percent, Cal Poly had 15 rebounds and 4 turnovers to 14 rebounds and 2 turnovers by UCSB.  Each team missed 2 free throws.  Hanson led Cal Poly with 12 points and Johnson had 10 for UCSB.

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