Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

The Tritons sink The Beach with the three ball in 88-74 loss

LA JOLLA, San Diego – Coming into Thursday night’s matchup, Long Beach State had won eight of their previous nine contests, closing the preseason on a high note and starting Big West play 3-1. As for UC San Diego, they came into the game with a 3-0 conference record and looked to remain undefeated.

Last season the two teams each exchanged overtime victories on each other’s home courts including a triple overtime thriller where senior guard Marcus Tsohonis set a school record with 46 points in a Beach win over the Tritons.

UCSD fed off the energy inside LionTree Arena from a sold-out student section and one of their largest crowds of the season with 2,083 in attendance. Backdoor cuts to the basket and perimeter shooting highlighted their night en route to their 88-74 win over LBSU.

The Tritons’ backcourt led the charge for UCSD with junior guard Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones tallying 13 of his 19 points in the first half and going 6-6 from the field.

Redshirt senior Bryce Pope got his big night started with seven points, including a four-point play in the closing minutes of the half that made fans in the arena erupt.

Tsohonis kept The Beach afloat in the first half, willing LBSU to eventually even up the score going into halftime at 42-42. Going into the break, Tsohonis led The Beach in points, assists and rebounds.

Senior guard Marcus Tsohonis being guarded by UC San Diego junior guard/forward Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones in the first half. Both were their team's leading scorers going into halftime of a tied game.
Senior guard Marcus Tsohonis being guarded by UC San Diego junior guard/forward Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones in the first half. Both were their team’s leading scorers going into halftime of a tied game. Photo credit: LBSU Athletics & Josue Vasquez

A strong point in the early stages of the season for LBSU has been their resiliency, fighting back into games in the second half and pulling ahead with leads after cleaning up errors from the first half. However, this game would not follow that trend with The Beach being outscored 46-32 in the second half.

In the second half, getting to the free-throw line 15 times was The Beach’s only true way of generating any bit of offense as the team seemed to lack consistency or create any flow on the offensive side of the ball.

“Frustration was the biggest thing. We couldn’t stop them, guys got frustrated and tried getting ten-point plays on the offensive end, which are not possible,” head coach Dan Monson said. “Even though it was tied at the half, they were in control of the game the way they played it with their tempo.”

UCSD continued to live from behind the arc, shooting 16-28 from three and hitting ten more threes than The Beach. Long Beach State, who have struggled from deep, exchange twos with threes proved to be the Achilles heel in the loss.

“We’re not committed to the defensive end, so when they hit a couple (threes), guys start losing confidence and start trying to do other things instead of being more committed to what we’re trying to do,” Monson said.

A 5-0 run by Pope began when he hit a three-pointer and then intercepted a pass on the other end, resulting in him scoring a fast break layup that stretched the Tritons’ lead to 61-51 and forced Monson to call timeout.

From that point on The Beach would begin to press from full court, putting a slight end to the three-point assault but ultimately led to more points in the paint for the Tritons.

Things would get chippy between the Big West rivals as things wrapped up with an altercation between Pope and junior forward Aboubacar Traore as the frustration seemingly began to boil over; the two would be assessed a double technical.

Traore posted 16 points of his own to go along with seven rebounds and Tsohonis would finish as The Beach’s leading scorer with 18, but the big nights’ from the duo weren’t enough.

In his first game since being named Big West player of the week junior forward Aboubacar Traore drives down the lane to add 2 of his 16 points on the night, going 5-8 from the field. Traore added seven boards to go along with a season-high six made free throws.
In his first game since being named Big West player of the week junior forward Aboubacar Traore drives down the lane to add 2 of his 16 points on the night, going 5-8 from the field. Traore added seven boards to go along with a season-high six made free throws. Photo credit: LBSU Athletics & Josue Vasquez

The story of the night would be the Tritons star guard Pope as his 26 points on 63% shooting from three earned him a standing ovation as he checked out with a minute remaining as the Tritons remain a perfect 4-0 in conference play.

The Beach’s loss drops them to 11-6 overall and 3-2 in the Big West. Next up for LBSU is a trip to UC Santa Barbara for a primetime showdown with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Saturday evening.

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