Cal State Fullerton (14-17) at Long Beach State (18-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Honda Center (18,336) -- Anaheim, California. Television: FSN-PT. Home Record: CSF 6-12, LBSU 11-3. Away Record: CSF 6-10, LBSU 7-9. Neutral Record: CSF 2-0, LBSU 0-0. Conference Record: CSF 6-12, LBSU 14-4. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 62-43.
GAME NOTES: The Long Beach State 49ers bring the Big West Player of the Year and Coach of the Year to Anaheim as they meet the Cal State Fullerton Titans in Big West Conference Tournament quarterfinal-round action at the Honda Center.
Cal State Fullerton's run into the postseason begins as the team tries to end a four-game losing streak, most recently falling at Cal Poly last Saturday, 62-60.
In their regular-season finale, also last Saturday, the 49ers fell to Pacific, 71-51, although the game held little meaning for LBSU as it had already clinched the league title with a 77-76 victory over UC Davis last Thursday. The defending conference tournament champs, the 49ers come into this contest having won five of their last eight bouts.
The 49ers lead the all-time series with the Titans, 62-43, after posting an 81-73 win in Fullerton and an 85-65 victory in Long Beach this year. Fullerton has won seven of 12 in the series dating back to 2007-08. LBSU's sweep of the regular-season series with the Titans was the first for the 49ers since 2006-07, the last of their six-straight wins over Fullerton from 2004-07. LBSU is 6-1 all-time against Fullerton in the postseason.
Senior Kwame Vaughn and sophomore Alex Harris each finished with a game-high 22 points, but Fullerton still fell to Cal Poly last time out. The duo combined to score all but 16 points for the Titans, who shot just under 49 percent from the floor for the night. For Harris, it was a career high and his seventh straight double-digit scoring performance. Vaughn notched his third straight game of at least 20 points and reached that plateau for the 12th time this season. The duo, along with freshman Jared Brandon, each played all 40 minutes for Fullerton, which never trailed by more than five points in the second half but was never able to make its way back.
Injuries have decimated to the Titans this season. Currently sidelined players include prolific scoring guard D.J. Seeley (17.9 ppg, 3.9 apg), who was just named to the All-Big West Second Team but is dealing with a sprained foot, and Sammy Yeager (15.8 ppg), who is trying to overcome a strained back. Luckily, Vaughn (18.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.7 apg), also named to the All-Big West Second Team, has been healthy and picking up the slack as he continues to fill up the stat sheet as well as just about any player in the conference, while also ranking in the top-10 in the league in assists. Harris (10.2 ppg) is the next- best option with Seeley and Yeager out for the Titans, who are scoring the most in the Big West and the 18th-most points per game in the country this season (76.9 pg). However on defense they are at or near the bottom of the conference, as they are surrendering 74.4 ppg on 47.4 percent shooting, which are both among the 25 worst marks in the nation.
In their last outing, after capturing the regular season crown at UC Davis, the 49ers struggled against Pacific, losing by 20 in Stockton. James Ennis led the team with 12 points, tallying his 35th consecutive game in double digits.
On Monday, LBSU Head Coach Dan Monson and senior guard/forward Ennis were named Big West Coach and Player of the Year, respectively. This is the third straight year that Monson has been honored, as well as the third consecutive year in which a 49er has earned Player of the Year accolades. A well-deserved honor for Ennis, as he scores 17.0 ppg on 49.1 percent field goal shooting while adding 6.9 rpg, 1.8 spg and 1.4 bpg. Mike Caffey brings 12.3 ppg to the table, while Freeland (10.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Keala King (9.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.2 apg) and Dan Jennings (8.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) round out possibly the best starting unit in the league. As a team, LBSU scores a solid 69.7 ppg, but it is often let down by a suspect defense (70.6 ppg).
Combine the 49ers' balanced scoring attack with a Titans team that is hobbled by injuries to its star players and you get a quarterfinal mismatch. Expect Long Beach State to use its scoring depth to outgun Cal State Fullerton and advance to the semifinals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Beach State 72, Cal State Fullerton 65
03/14 10:33:33 ET