UC Riverside (5-19) at Long Beach State (15-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 7:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Walter Pyramid (5,000) -- Long Beach, California. Television: None. Home Record: UCR 4-7, LBSU 9-2. Away Record: UCR 1-9, LBSU 6-7. Neutral Record: UCR 0-3, LBSU 0-0. Conference Record: UCR 2-10, LBSU 11-2. Series Record: Long Beach State leads, 29-10.
GAME NOTES: Big West Conference action is on tap this Saturday, as the first- place Long Beach State 49ers play host to the last-place UC Riverside Highlanders at Walter Pyramid.
UCR has been lackluster to say the least this season, as it sits at 5-19 overall and 2-10 in Big West action, and its poor season has reached new lows of late as it has dropped six straight games. The Highlanders began a two-game road trip on Wednesday with a 52-48 loss at UC Irvine to fall to just 1-9 on the road.
With a convincing 85-65 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday night, LBSU extended its home winning streak against conference opponents to 24 games, and it gave Dan Monson his 100th victory as head coach of the program. The 49ers have now won 10 of their last 11 to improve to 15-9, and they continue to reign over the rest of the league at 11-2.
LBSU outlasted UCR in overtime on Jan. 17, 91-82, to extend its lead in the all-time series to 29-10. The 49ers have now beaten the Highlanders in seven straight meetings.
After scoring a mere 14 points in the first half against UCI earlier in the week, UCR went into halftime down by 12 and it could never fully recover, as it battled back after intermission but ultimately dropped the four-point decision. The Highlanders made good on less than 30 percent of their field goal attempts on the night, with only Chris Harriel netting in double figures with 11 points, albeit on just 3-of-12 shooting. Harriel also added 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks to his performance. Not surprisingly, UCR's offense has been poor all season long, as it is shooting only 43 percent from the field and 58.4 percent from the foul line for 61.1 ppg (last in the Big West). Chris Patton have been very effective in the frontcourt, netting 13.3 ppg on 55.7 percent field goal shooting. Harriel adds 10.9 ppg but on less than 37 percent shooting from the field, while Josh Fox brings 10.0 ppg and 6.8 rpg to the table.
LBSU put together a fantastic all-around effort against Fullerton on Wednesday, outshooting the Titans from the field (.515 to .353) while dominating the rebounding battle (49-30) en route to the 20-point victory. James Ennis was outstanding, shooting 10-of-26 from the floor for 26 points while tying a career-high with 15 boards. Tony Freeland also tallied a double- double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, Dan Jennings and Peter Pappageorge scored 12 points apiece, while Keala King rounded out the balanced effort with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Thanks to a brutal non-conference schedule, the 49ers are still dealing with a -2.7 scoring margin overall, but in 13 league games that number has jumped up to +3.8. Ennis is the team's catalyst, ranking fourth in the league in scoring with 17.6 ppg on 49.1 percent field goal efficiency, but he is far from a one-trick pony as he adds 6.9 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.5 bpg as well. Mike Caffey runs the point and tallies 12.1 ppg and 4.1 apg, while Freeland (10.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Jennings (9.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and King (9.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.5 apg) have all helped out on the glass.
LBSU has dominated conference foes in recent years, especially at Walter Pyramid, and not much is expected to change in this one as it takes on the hapless Highlanders.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Long Beach State 78, UC Riverside 61
02/16 10:32:29 ET