GAME NOTES: The Long Beach State 49ers have won three games in a row and will look to notch a fourth as they host the Cal State Fullerton Titans in Big West Conference action at the Walter Pyramid.
Fullerton ended a three-game losing streak with a 74-72 win over current conference leader UC Santa Barbara last Saturday. The Titans are 2-3 in conference play this season - one and a half games behind UCSB, UC Irvine and Long Beach State for first place.
With the three consecutive wins, the 49ers pulled even with UCSB and UC Irvine for a three-way tie atop the Big West leaderboard. Long Beach State outlasted Hawaii Thursday night, 92-83, in conference play to pull to 4-2.
Long Beach State has a firm grip on the all-time series lead with Cal State Fullerton, 63-43. The 49ers hold a 35-14 edge in Long Beach, and have won the last three meetings between the two programs.
Fullerton led 60-51 with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, but UCSB came back to tie the game at 65 apiece with 3:53 remaining. The Titans were able to hold on though, as a Michael Williams' 3-pointer with 32 seconds left help lift them to victory. Alex Harris paced the Titans with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. Williams tallied 19 points and six rebounds in the win, while Marquis Horne notched 13 and Josh Gentry added 10. The Titans shot 50 percent from the floor in the win.
Williams has solidified himself as the team's go-to scorer this season for Fullerton. Williams nets an average of 16 ppg on 43.8 percent shooting from the floor, adding 4 rpg and a team-leading 46 total assists to his stat line. Harris is second on the team with a 13.1 ppg average. Steve McClellan tops the squad in rebounding with 5.9 rpg and a team-best seven blocked shots. The Titans are scoring just 66.1 ppg through 19 games played.
Long Beach State had its offense working on all cylinders against Hawaii late Thursday night, as the 49ers connected on 60 percent of their shots from the floor in the victory. Mike Caffey led LBSU with a career-high 29 points on 10- of-14 shooting, adding five rebounds to his totals. A.J. Spencer scored 24 points, and Branford Jones chipped in 11 off the bench.
Caffey leads the team in scoring this season with a healthy 17.2 ppg on 42.7 percent shooting from the floor. His 4.2 apg average is by far the team's best, and he adds 4.5 rpg for good measure. UCLA transfer Tyler Lamb, who has only played in 10 games this season but scored eight against Hawaii, notches 15.3 ppg and Dan Jennings nets 10 ppg. Jennings tops the team in rebounding at 7.8 rpg with 24 blocked shots on the year.
Though its overall record doesn't hint at it, Long Beach State is a very well- rounded team with solid scoring, defense and rebounding. As long as at least two players on the roster have above average shooting performances per game, the 49ers could quickly become the favorites in the Big West.
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