Recap: Long Beach State vs. UC Santa Barbara
Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) - Casper Ware made eight three-pointers and scored a career-high 33 points as Long Beach State pulled away in the second half to down UC Santa Barbara, 77-64, in the championship game of the Big West Conference Tournament.
It was the third straight year the teams were meeting in the final with Santa Barbara winning the previous two, but the 49ers (25-8) connected on 14-of-33 three-point attempts to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
"[Ware] was phenomenal. but he can't do it alone. We weren't going to win with 33 points," Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson said. "We had some guys step up and I really thought all of them did a great job."
James Nunnally and Orlando Johnson netted 17 points apiece in a losing effort for the Gauchos (20-10), who also got 13 points and seven rebounds from Alan Williams.
Long Beach State carried a 36-34 lead into the second half and it remained a one-possession game over the first seven minutes until Ware's jumper kicked off a personal 14-10 run by the senior which was part of a larger 22-10 swing by the 49ers to jump out to a double-digit lead, 59-46, past the midpoint of the second half.
Ware connected on four treys in the run, including a four-point play when he was fouled by Jaime Serna while draining a deep shot.
The Gauchos responded with an 11-5 spurt to close the gap to seven, 57-64, with 5 1/2 minutes left, but James Ennis reeled off the game's next six points to spark a 13-2 run by Long Beach State to run away for the win.
"They are a really good basketball team that we just had no answer for," UC Santa Barbara head coach Bob Williams said about the 49ers. "Our kids competed, we battled, we fought, but it just didn't go our way. They were too good this night."
Back-to-back threes and a layup by Ware kicked off a 17-9 spurt by the 49ers in the first half to give them their largest lead of the opening 20 minutes, 33-24, with just under six minutes left in the half.
But UC Santa Barbara closed out the frame with a 10-3 run to get within two at the break.Game Notes
Long Beach State won all three meetings between the teams this season and holds a 59-55 advantage in the all-time series...The Gauchos made 6-of-17 three-point attempts in the contest...Ennis finished with 15 points for the 49ers...More than half of Long Beach State's shots were from beyond the arc. They finished shooting 25-for-57 from the floor in the game.