Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

LBSU drops third straight game with 82-61 loss to UCI

IRVINE, Calif. — Long Beach State came to UC Irvine Saturday night for a nationally broadcasted matchup on ESPN2 against the Big West Conference-leading Anteaters. The Beach failed in their attempt to steal a win on their rival’s home floor, unlike how UCI did in late January.

The first sold-out Bren Events Center crowd since 2020 saw their NCAA tournament hopeful Anteaters hand their ‘Black and Blue’ rivals a convincing 21-point loss, giving The Beach their third consecutive loss.

Outside of a stellar closing first-half performance from junior guard Jadon Jones and a scoring explosion from senior guard Marcus Tsohonis in the second half, The Beach offense was held stagnant throughout the night.

“Individually we had some guys really compete offensively, but it’s a team game and we didn’t trust enough,” head coach Dan Monson said. “Defensively I think we are getting better, we had some good stops, we got them late in the clock and sometimes we just didn’t finish.”

From tip-off, UCI was able to capture the energy of the electricity brought by their fans and rowdy student section to their advantage, with their largest lead spiking up to 14 in the first half.

Junior forward Lassina Traore would get going early connecting on his first two shots from the midrange, but would finish just 3-13 from the field to go along with 16 rebounds.

Jones would get hot to finish the half, scoring all 12 of his points in the opening frame when The Beach was in desperate need of someone to take charge of the scoring duties. Still, this left LBSU with a 12-point deficit going into the break to a UCI team that was undefeated at home this year.

Junior guard Jadon Jones caught fire in the closing minutes of the first half on Saturday night at the sold-out Bren Events Center at UC Irvine. Jones would go 5-8 from the field overall and 2-5 from three on his way to 12 points.
Junior guard Jadon Jones caught fire in the closing minutes of the first half on Saturday night at the sold-out Bren Events Center at UC Irvine. Jones would go 5-8 from the field overall and 2-5 from three on his way to 12 points. Photo credit: Ivan Abril via LBSU Athletics

Tsohonis would heat up in his first game back from a groin injury in the second half in an attempt to will his team back into things, scoring 15 of his game-high 19 points in one of his signature flurries.

He got it done beyond the arc, finishing with contact and sending himself to free throw line.

The inability of Long Beach State to have a second scoring option would ultimately hurt them, Tsohonis would only be able to get the lead down to as low as eight in the second half before UC Irvine would ultimately pull away, putting this game out of reach well before the final buzzer.

The scoring disparity between the two benches was glaring as the Anteater bench outscored the bench of The Beach 34-3 en route to their second double-digit victory over LBSU this season.

UCI would shoot just under the 50% cliff as a team and be led by the backcourt tandem of redshirt senior guard Justin Hohn with 13 points and fifth-year guard Pierre Crockrell II with 12 of his own.

“We need to be more consistent, we’re making good plays on both ends of the floor but we are not doing it enough consistently,” Monson said. “This time of year, one or two possessions mean a lot and I didn’t feel like that was a 20-point game, but we definitely have work to do.”

The Beach will have two games at home to right the ship ahead of the Big West tournament in Henderson, Nevada. Starting with a visit from the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Thursday, March 7, who took home last year’s Big West title.

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