Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) - It's Deja Vu in Anaheim on Saturday, as the UC
Santa Barbara Gauchos face the Long Beach State 49ers in the Big West
Conference Tournament championship game.
In last year's title showdown, the Gauchos got the better of the 49ers by a
69-64 margin. However, the 49ers earned some revenge this season, as they
defeated UCSB twice, and the two victories have given LBSU a 56-54 advantage
in the all-time series.
Repeating as champions is never easy, as the Gauchos found out how tough it is
through the regular season, as UC Santa Barbara finished just 8-8 in league
action. However, the fifth-seeded Gauchos turned up their level of play when
they got into this tournament as they defeated Pacific by a 12-point margin in
the quarterfinal round, and followed that with a 20-point victory over CS
Northridge in the semifinals. The recent run of success has left the Gauchos
on the door step of their third Big West Tournament title.
However, standing in their way are the 49ers, who claimed the top seed with a
14-2 mark in conference play. Long Beach State has won 11 straight games
entering this matchup and is poised to end UC Santa Barbara's season after
falling to the Gauchos in the title tilt last year. This is the fourth
championship contest for LBSU since 2006, but the team that has four Big West
crowns is looking for its first since 2007.
The Gauchos were not an overwhelming offensive team during the regular season
and that is evident by the team's 68.5 ppg scoring average. However, in this
event the team has stepped up its efforts and in two games, UCSB posted 79 and
83 points, respectively. In the win over CS Northridge, the Gauchos only shot
41.3 percent from the floor, but used a huge 37-of-48 showing at the foul line
to their advantage. Orlando Johnson, who leads the team on the year with 21.0
ppg, poured in 20 points behind an 6-of-14 shooting effort. Jaime Serna added
16 points and nine rebounds, proving to be a reliable option in the paint,
while James Nunnally (16.5 ppg) chipped in 12 points in the win.
Long Beach State showcased a balanced attack throughout the season and the
49ers once again delivered a strong effort in their semifinal win over UC
Riverside. The 49ers, who are producing 73.0 ppg on the year, finished with 74
points against the Highlanders. Long Beach State did have to overcome 18
turnovers and also shot just 41.7 percent from the floor, so it was not a
flawless effort, but nonetheless the team made 9-of-17 three-point attempts
and finished 25-of-36 from the charity stripe and those two areas led to the
victory. Larry Anderson, who is posting 14.7 ppg and 6.0 rpg on the year, was
one of four players in double figures, as the guard posted 21 points and
grabbed nine rebounds. Greg Plater added 17 points, while the team's top
scorer on the season Casper Ware (17.1 ppg) contributed 16 points. T.J.
Robinson has been the team's best player in the paint this year, averaging
13.6 ppg and 9.9 rpg, and proved his worth in the win, as the forward tallied
13 points, to go along with nine boards.
The Sports Network