USA TODAY Sports
The Anteaters pulled another West Coast upset, forcing the 49ers out of an NCAA bid behind a big night by freshman guard Alex Young.
The University of California, Irvine and California State University, Long Beach (who we affectionately know as LBSU) have been considered rivals for many years, especially since the two schools created the "Black and Blue Rivalry Series" in 2006.
The schools are located 20 miles from each other and under 20 miles from the Honda Center, where the Big West tournament is played. Recently, Long Beach has been the regular season conference champions three years running and reached the final game of the Big West Tournament consecutively since 2010. That is, until the Anteaters decided to spoil the party tonight.
UCI and Long Beach State fought it out for a solid 36 minutes before the Anteaters closed the game out on free throws. While the scoring aspect of this game was extremely even (UCI shot 42.9% from the field, LBSU went 41.3%), the key to this game was LBSU's inability to capitalize on their rebounds.
The 49ers out-rebounded the Anteaters 36-27 but committed 12 turnovers (compared to UCI's five. Perhaps the primary reason why the 49ers lost was a near four-minute drought in the second half when the team was up by seven. UCI fought back, cut the lead to two, and then battled until an Alex Young 3-point shot put the 'Eaters up for good with 3:40 left.
Speaking of Alex Young, the freshman guard put up 18 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in tonight's game, showing how scary good he will be in the future if he remains consistent. Right behind him, Will Davis II and Chris McNealy had 14 and 13 points respectively. On the 49ers side, 4 of the 5 starters had double digits: Tony Freeland and Keala King had 15, Michael Caffey had 14 and James Ennis contributed 11. The rest of The Beach was essentially ineffective.
LBSU now awaits any postseason news while UCI awaits the Cal Poly/Pacific winner.