ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Justin Bibbins scored 17 points, Nick Faust added 15, and third-seeded Long Beach State upset No. 2-seed UC Irvine 77-72 in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals Friday night. The 49ers (20-13) will face top-seeded Hawaii (26-5) in the championship game Saturday.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Justin Bibbins scored 17 points, Nick Faust added 15, and third-seeded Long Beach State upset No. 2-seed UC Irvine 77-72 in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals Friday night.
The 49ers (20-13) will face top-seeded Hawaii (26-5) in the championship game Saturday.
A.J. Spencer scored 13 points and Travis Hammonds had 11 to help Long Beach State hold off a late charge from the defending conference tournament champion Anteaters (25-9).
The 49ers surrendered a 13-point second half lead, but went back on top when Faust hit a 3 with 6:07 left and led rest of the way.
UC Irvine beat Long Beach State in both of the regular-season meetings, including a 90-67 victory when the teams last met Feb. 24.
Jaron Martin scored 21 points and 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye had 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots to lead the Anteaters.
Long Beach State led 39-30 at halftime and extended it to 45-32 before UCI slowly crawled back into it. After minutes of back-and-forth, the Anteaters finally broke through with a 20-9 run that gave them a 62-61 lead with 6:48 to go. Martin scored 11 points - including three 3-pointers - to lead the spurt and Mike Best scored the go-ahead layup off a no-look pass from Ndiaye in the paint.
It didn't last for long. Faust put Long Beach State back in front with a 3-pointer on the next possession, and back-to-back jumpers by Spencer and Hammonds made it 70-64 49ers with 3:53 remaining.
A series of free throws cut UCI's deficit to 70-68 with two minutes left, but it couldn't get any closer. Luke Nelson missed a potential go-ahead 3 with 1:48 to go and, after a 49ers free throw, Alex Young missed a 3-pointer to tie with 1:07 left.
Faust made them pay for the missed opportunities, hitting a jumper from the right wing with 38 seconds left to make it 73-68 Long Beach State, and the 49ers sunk four of their final six free throws to ice it.
UC Irvine: The Anteaters shot just 38.5 percent (25 of 65) from the field, including 6 of 17 from 3-point range..Ndiaye was 6 for 9 from the field and also had three assists..UC Irvine was making its fifth consecutive Big West semifinals appearance
Long Beach State: The 49ers made 28 of 34 free throw attempts. They had 24 attempts in the first half alone.Roschon Prince and Gabe Levin added 10 points each to give LBSU six players in double figures.They are headed to their first conference title game since 2012. They are 5-6 all-time in Big West championship games.
UC Irvine: Awaits its post-season matchup
Long Beach State: Faces Hawaii in the Big West championship game Saturday