There’s no good way for a college basketball team’s season to end, but it’s hard to imagine a more excruciating way for it to have ended than the way the Long Beach State men’s basketball team went out on Thursday afternoon. The 49ers took a three-point lead with 2:30 left in the game but missed their next nine shots, going on to fall to Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals, 76-74.
Seven of the 49ers’ final nine shots were in the paint, and they bounced off of every side of the rim, several of them looking like sure-fire makes.
“I thought Temi’s up and under was good, I thought Book’s shot at the end was good,” said 49ers coach Dan Monson after the game. “You feel for the guys because they take the brunt of that, Temi and Gabe struggled in there, they missed some shots in there they normally don’t.”
Fullerton coach Dedrique Taylor admitted some of the misses defied his expectations.
“Walking back to the locker room with one of our coaches, he said the basketball gods smiled on us and I thought 100% they did,” said Taylor. “Every look they had was a good clean look and I have no idea other than a higher power was going ‘Poof, that’s not going in, poof, that’s not going in either.”
With the 49ers leading 74-71 with 2:31 left, Long Beach looked to be in a good spot. Throw in the fact that the Titans missed some big shots (as well as three free throws) down the stretch and the door was wide open. But the 49ers couldn’t walk through it.
“It was a hard-fought game and with those kind of games the ball is harder to get in,” said Monson.
Levin had 22 points as did Deishuan Booker, making it a career effort for him. Levin, Booker, and Temidayo Yussuf took all the 49ers’ shots in the end, something Monson didn’t regret despite the fact that the shots didn’t fall.
“It’s the postseason and your best players need the ball,” said Monson.
Fullerton will advance to face UC Davis on Friday at 9 p.m. The 49ers end the season at 15-18.
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