Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

LBSU knocks out CSUF from the top spot in the Big West

The Long Beach State men’s basketball team’s tenacious first half of defense and efficient shooting performance gave the top team in the Big West Conference its second loss of the season on Saturday.

LBSU (10-12, 4-2 Big West) had a dominant 81-73 win against Cal State Fullerton (11-7, 4-2 Big West) which marked head coach Dan Monson’s 350th career win. The 49ers finished the night shooting 52 percent from 3-point range, a season high for the team.

“Our guys set a great tone defensively to start the game off,” Monson said. “It was easily our best half of the year.”

The front court pair of forwards, senior Gabe Levin and junior Temidayo Yussuf, have only played 6 of 22 games together, but have proved to be a formidable combination. Levin has been the most consistent player for the 49ers this season, putting up 19 points while grabbing nine rebounds. Yussuf was a threat in the post, logging in a double-double with 19 points, 14 rebounds and even dishing out four assists.

“We pride ourselves in rebounding, we want to win that rebounding war,” Levin said. “We started inside out, and it just opened everything up for everyone else.”

Long Beach was aggressive on the boards and would end the game out-rebounding CSUF 43-31.

It was the best game the 49er frontcourt played all season, and both players credit the hard work they put in as a collective.

“Our teammates and coaches put a lot of confidence in us,” Yussuf said. “We know we have the best big man tandem.”

The tone of the rivalry match was set early, with the 49ers hitting big shots from the perimeter, and limiting the Titans to 34 percent shooting in the first half. Everything was going Long Beach’s way, and the team would end the first half with a four-point play by junior guard Deishuan Booker after drilling a 3-pointer through contact.

Long Beach continued its high-powered offense in the second half, but its defense lacked the same intensity from the start of the match.

“We were as active as we’ve been in the first half and I think we started to play the scoreboard too much,” Monson said. “We need to learn how to handle being up, we haven’t been up 25 on anyone all year.”

Junior guard Bryan Alberts continues to stay sidelined with a knee injury, but has been able to participate in full-contact practices.

The 49ers head to San Luis Obispo at 7 p.m. Thursday to take on struggling Cal Poly (6-13, 1-4 Big West).

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