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Basketball Long Beach State

Shorthanded Long Beach State Men’s Basketball Scores 103 In Win

Not very often does a men’s basketball team play a non-conference game with only two weeks left in the regular season, but that’s what Long Beach State did on Thursday night at Walter Pyramid.

The short-handed Beach used balanced scoring to beat UC San Diego 103-87. Their 16 made 3-pointers is just one short of the program single-game record.

It’s the second time this season LBSU scored over 100 points, and the second time the Beach beat UCSD. The Tritons (11-14) are playing a full conference schedule as they join the Big West, but their games don’t count towards the final standings.

LBSU (16-10, 10-2) is still first place in the Big West, but only had eight available players on Thursday due to injury.

“We’ve got a lot of guys banged up but our guys didn’t use it as an excuse today,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “We had less than half of our team, we started with 17, and the eight guys did a great job.”

All five starters Joel Murray (27 points), Jadon Jones (17), Tobias Rotegaard (17), Aboubacar Traore (16) and Colin Slater (10) scored double figures. Murray and Slater both had six of the season-high 26 assists for LBSU, and Rotegaard made five of his six attempts from behind the arc in his first career start.

“I was focusing on my role as a forward and rebounding for us,” said Rotegaard, who had five rebounds. “On offense I was just trying to move the ball and play off (Murray and Slater) and just hitting open shots.”

Rotegaard wasn’t the only player to take advantage of time on the floor with a career high. AJ Neal had a career-high seven points, and Jeffrey Yan had a career-high five rebounds. Eddie Scott scored seven points.

“This definitely boosts my confidence,” Rotegaard said. “I started the year kinda bad shooting wise, and I had a few games where I only had two shots and missed both. (Tonight) Feels good to get the rhythm from the start and it made it easier for me.”

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The game was wide open early and often while the teams combined to go 33-for-71 from 3-point range. UCSD forward Jake Kosakowski made nine of his 15 attempts from behind the arc while scoring a team-high 26 points.

“We signed (Traore) as a guard so we basically had five guards out there,” Monson said. “We didn’t have a turnover in the second half until the last five minutes, and we needed that (offense) because defensively we just got riddled. You know that’s how they play, you know they’re going to take 30 for 40 threes and we just didn’t anticipate it as well as we did at their place and they made us pay.”

LBSU opened the second half on a 12-0 run and led by as many as 21 points, but before that there were 10 ties and 18 lead changes.

The game was tied 11-11 when Slater turned a steal into a fast break opportunity, and Murray found Jones for a dunk. The Tritons came back to tie it again 24-24 when Jones hit consecutive 3-pointers to put LBSU up 33-29 with 7:20 left in the first half.

After trading 3-pointers down the stretch, UCSD was fouled on a half court attempt at the buzzer, and the resulting free throws put the Tritons up 57-55 at halftime.

Slater opened the second half by finding Traore for a dunk before big 3-pointers from Murray and Rotegaard sparked the 12-0 run.

“We took control on the defensive end and then the shots went in,” Monson said. “If we can get stops and rebounds we’re a hard team to defend because we can score out in the open floor. But if you’re taking it out of the net like we were doing in the first half it’s not quite as effective.”

LBSU ran away with the game after that, but got more bad injury news when Traore went down after rolling his ankle with 12 minutes to play. He needed help off the court, and LBSU played the rest of the game with seven players.

“We know that to win three games in two weeks from now we’ve got to get some guys healthy and get into the rotation we had when we were winning in the meat of the league season,” Monson said.

Joe Hampton will not be one of those players. His broken hand has ended his season.

Obviously, the injury situation will make games like the one on Saturday at third-place UC Irvine much harder. The game is scheduled for 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on national television on ESPNU.

“We’ve got to play better in big games,” Monson said. “I think our guys understand that we didn’t show up last Saturday at Santa Barbara defensively. It’s going to be harder now because we have less guys than we had then. We’ve got to step up.”

PHOTOS: Long Beach State vs. UC San Diego, NCAA Basketball

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.