With plenty of options for Long beach State men’s basketball to turn to offensively, freshman Aboubacar Traore usually doesn’t have to worry about creating at that end. But with guards Colin Slater and Joel Murray in early foul trouble, Traore used his defense to create offensive opportunities which led to him scoring a game-high 17 points that lifted the Beach to a 65-58 win over UC Santa Barbara on Thursday night at Walter Pyramid.
“I don’t come into the game and think I’m going to be the best scorer this game,” Traore said. “In my mind I’m just like we need to win. We have guys that can score, so I like to focus on defense.”
After a 24-24 tie, UC Santa Barbara went on a 10-2 run to take a 36-24 lead at halftime.
The Gauchos opened up a 12-point lead after back-to-back turnovers at the beginning of the second half that forced coach Dan Monson to call a timeout.
“I called that timeout and (told the guys) we are not doing this again,” Monson said. “That is soft, we’re not going to be soft today.”
The Beach responded and slowly chipped away at UCSB’s lead with big games from Jadon Jones and Murray, who finished with 13 and 15 points respectively.
LBSU also held UCSB’s Amadou Sow to 9 points, well shy of his season average of 17 per game.
“Coach always talks about scoring from our defense,” Jones said. “So, when we start making defensive plays, everyone gets energy.”
Along with picking up their first Big West win of the season, the Beach went 17-for-17 from the floor, the second-best mark in program history and the second time they’ve reached that mark since 1976.
The Beach will be back in action on Saturday when they host Cal State Northridge at 4 p.m.