The biggest upset of the Big West men’s basketball season happened at Walter Pyramid on Wednesday night where last-place Long Beach State took down first-place UC Irvine. The Beach used a great defensive effort to beat the Anteaters 63-56 and snap their 16-game league winning streak.
“I thought our guys defended for 40 minutes,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “I told them that Irvine is the best defensive in the team in the (Big West) and they had to be better than them and they were.”
UCI (11-9, 3-1) was held to 33.8 percent shooting and LBSU (7-14, 2-3) had seven blocks plus 16 points off turnovers. LBSU is also the last team to beat UCI last year.
“I don’t think there’s any secret (to beating UCI),” Monson said. “Our conference is about matchups and we have the size to matchup with them.”
LBSU guard Colin Slater (pictured) led the way with 19 points, three assists, two steals and no turnovers.
“Colin really took charge down the stretch to get us that great win,” Monson said. “Everybody that played really contributed. I’m thrilled for our guys.”
Senior and defensive stopper Drew Cobb was in the starting lineup for the first time this season, and it showed as LBSU held UCI to 2 points in the first seven minutes. The Anteaters came back to tie it 14-14 but the Beach led 25-23 at halftime.
A steal and bucket from Slater capped a 10-0 run early in the second half that gave LBSU a 35-23 lead. The Beach got imperative points and defensive rebounds from 7’0″ sophomore Trever Irish and 6’11” freshman Joshua Morgan down the stretch to secure the win.
Irish had a career-high eight points, and the 39 rebounds for the Beach are a season-high against Division I opponents.
Sophomore transfer Michael Carter III didn’t play and has been suspended for “attitude detrimental to the team” so Monson is meeting with him again on Thursday.
LBSU is at UC Riverside on Thursday, Jan. 30. and the game can be watched on ESPN3.