After sending Long Beach State home from each of the last two Big West Tournaments, the 49ers finally returned the favor to the University of Hawaii men's basketball team at the Honda Center Thursday night in the opening round of the tournament.
A scoring drought of more than seven minutes in the second half doomed the Rainbow Warriors who fell to LBSU for the second time in five days, this time by a score of 73-62.
"Maybe our depth wore out because it's happened the last couple games, but then there has been critical stretches with big swings when we miss free throws, they make free throws, we miss some shots around the rim and they make them," said head coach Eran Ganot. "I think it was a culmination of that."
Leading the way for Long Beach State was Justin Bibbins who scored a career-high 27 points, motivated by his mom sending him a picture prior to the game of the 49ers loss to UH in the championship game last year.
Noah Allen paced the 'Bows with 21 points, including a run of 10 straight late in the first half, in his final collegiate game.
"To be embraced by my teammates and the fan base and my coaches, it's been really special for me and something I'll take with me forever," Allen said.
Gibson Johnson made his presence felt in the post scoring 18 points. Jack Purchase was able to play on an injured ankle, but he finished with only two points and no three pointers.
"I think part of it maybe was a lack of practicing fully this week," said Ganot. "It would have certainly been nice to have him at full strength, but he gave it everything he could."
UH finishes the year 14-16, and will get a much needed boost heading into next year without sanctions looming and scholarships available.
"I'm incredibly proud of our entire program," said Ganot. "It's tough when you want to keep playing, but the important thing right now when the season concludes is to show great appreciation, and rightfully so for a group of guys who have been through some tough times and handled it incredibly well and professionally."
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