Screenshot 2024-02-22 at 10.58.38 PM
Basketball Long Beach State

Long Beach State Men’s Basketball Wins Fifth Straight Game

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State Basketball is sponsored by CSULB Distinguished Alumnus Nelson Farris.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State men’s basketball for the 2023-24 season is sponsored by Arline & Mike Walter.

After a week of sustaining key injuries and a playing a sluggish first half on Thursday night at Walter Pyramid, AJ George and Long Beach State men’s basketball came alive in the second half to put away CSU Bakersfield 79-66 in Big West Conference action.

This is a fifth consecutive win for LBSU (18-9, 10-5) and keeps them tied for third in the conference standings.

“That’s one of the tougher 13-point wins we’ve had in a while,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “That was a lot of work and that’s a credit to Bakersfield, they play very physical and they fight.”

George came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points and grab a team-high seven rebounds. He and Lassina Traore helped spark a 9-0 run with a little less than three minutes to play. Traore finished with 15 points and six rebounds. LBSU scored 49 points after halftime.

“It was kind of easy because of the way I play,” George said of coming in and changing the game. “I really just let my game flow, find the creases on the court and when my teammates get the ball to me and I know that’s my spot I try to take the best shot I can. It’s just finding my spots.”

“Every game is different and he figures that puzzle out better than any player I’ve had,” Monson said of George. “He’s coming off the bench because he’s a mature team guy. It helps our substitution pattern and it helps him because he plays harder than anybody else, he plays to fatigue.”

Monthly Subscribers to The562

By The562 Network Inc

Guard Marcus Tsohonis finished the night with 15 points after struggling with injury for most of the night, but came back late to stabilize the Beach down the stretch. Aboubacar Traore was also hampered with injury but went 11-for-12 from the free throw line to go with a pair of assists and steals.

LBSU leads the Big West in assists during conference play and had 18 on Thursday while only turning the ball over nine times. That unselfish play was evident late in the game.

“The strength of this team offensively is the balance,” Monson said. “Jadon (Jones) was the offensive difference on Saturday (at CSUN) and today they did a good job on him but in the timeouts he was like, ‘Hey, AJ and Basil are cooking so let’s get them the ball.’ They’re really starting to play for each other.”

Bakersfield (10-17, 5-11) handed LBSU its last loss in overtime earlier this month, and started the game with confidence while leading for almost the entire first half. Guard Kaleb Higgins scored a game-high 23 points, and the Roadrunners led by as many as seven, but the Beach finished the half aggressively and trips to the free throw line helped them cut the Bakersfield halftime lead to 32-30.

Consecutive 3-pointers from Jones and Messiah Thompson early in the second half gave LBSU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

LBSU led 61-59 with about four mites to go when a pair of Tsohonis jumpers padded the lead while the Beach defense came up with three consecutive turnovers that directly led to offense. LBSU scored 25 points off 19 forced turnovers, and 15 of those points came in the second half.

The Beach visits Hawaii on Saturday before finishing the regular season with games against Fullerton, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis. 

“Everything starts in practice,” George said of finishing strong headed to March. “We have to go hard, and pay attention to the scouts because sometimes we let players play to their strengths instead of their weaknesses. And then in the game locking in and rebounding.”

Monthly Subscribers to The562

By The562 Network Inc

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.