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Despite a valiant effort by Cal Poly, Long Beach State used aggressive defense and a strong offensive attack down the stretch to defeat Cal Poly 77-68 at the Walter Pyramid Friday Night.
“We knew coming into this game was gonna be a dogfight,” said LBSU head coach Dan Monson. “You gotta give Cal Poly credit for playing that hard despite their record coming in. Everyone expected this to be an easy win, but I didn’t.”
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This was an emotional night for junior Jadon Jones, whose 26 points on 9-14 shooting helped him reach 1,000 career points. He became the 25th player in Long Beach State history to achieve this feat.
Jones, a Long Beach native who played at St. Anthony, said he was grateful to be able to hit this huge milestone in his hometown.
“Obviously it’s a blessing to be from Long Beach and still be playing here, and having so many friends and family in the building supporting me,” said Jones. “To be able to do this in my city is a great accomplishment, so I’m really proud to be here.”
Coach Monson also added how special of a player Jones is and what he represents both on and off the court.
“He is Long Beach through and through,” said Monson. “He has a lot of pride in Long Beach and his community, and for him to do this at home is special for him. He plays with so much passion and emotion, and that’s what leads to great nights from him like tonight.”
This special moment for Jones did come on a controversial bucket, as Jones hit 1,000 by going for an open dunk with three seconds left in the game with the Beach up 77-67. This broke an unwritten rule in basketball, as it is considered proper sportsmanship to simply dribble the ball out and not go for additional shots when a team with an already guaranteed victory has possession.
“Disappointed that this great of an accomplishment had to come on a basket like that,” said Monson. “I apologize to Cal Poly for that, but I don’t want it to tarnish what (Jones) did and hopefully he can look back on it as a learning moment and still be happy with his accomplishment.”
Despite the Beach holding the lead for all but 44 seconds, this was a close back-and-forth matchup all night long. The Beach jumped out to a 13-4 run to start the game, but Cal Poly fought back, cutting the Beach lead to just 39-35 at halftime.
In the 2nd half, the Beach jumped out to a 63-54 lead, but again Cal Poly rallied and tied the game 63-63 with 3:07 left to play. However, in the final minutes, the Beach amped up the intensity on both ends, forcing 3 consecutive stops on Cal Poly including one near shot clock violation. Offensively, the Beach attacked the rim and drew enough fouls to win the game at the free throw line, hitting 12 free throws in the final 3 minutes to help them create separation.
Six of those free throws came from Marcus Tsohonis, who finished the night with 18 points. The free throws plus defensive effort allowed the Beach to pull ahead late, en route to a 77-68 win.
“Our guys did a great job of buckling down, getting some stops, some rebounds, attacking, and making free throws.” said Monson.
The Beach were also strong on the defensive end and in transition, forcing 18 turnovers off Cal Poly and outscoring them 26-8 in points off those turnovers.
“When we defend like that I think we’re as good as any team in the country in transition,” said Monson. “We still gotta continue to improve on the defensive end, but I think our new zone defense is helping our team’s awareness overall.”
The Beach now look ahead to a game against UC Davis on Thursday.
“We still have a lot to learn on both ends, a lot to work on, but I’m glad we are trending in the right direction,” said Monson.