ANAHEIM, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton men's basketball will play in the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament for the second straight year after defeating Long Beach State by a score of 76-74 on Thursday afternoon. The Titans entered the game with a 1-8 record against LBSU in the conference tournament, last defeating them in 1978.
CSF (18-11) trailed LBSU (15-18) for 23 minutes on the night and trailed for the first 12 minutes of the second half until an and-one layup and free throw by sophomore forward Jackson Rowe gave the Titans a 67-64 lead. The Titans then trailed again with 3:09 left, 73-71. Junior guard Khalil Ahmad made two free throws, Rowe made a layup to put CSF up 75-73 and then junior guard Kyle Allman, Jr. hit one of two free throws to give the Titans a 76-74 lead. With nine seconds left, Allman missed two free throws but the Titans got a stop and held on for the win.
The Titans moved to 14-0 when shooting 50% (27-50, 54%) or better from the field, but looking at the stats, that is about the only advantage the Titans had. LBSU out-shot them from three, took and made more free throws, won the rebounding battle by seven and had less turnovers. However, the Titans found a way to win. They shared the ball well as the team totaled 16 assists on its 27 made baskets and scored 44 points in the paint.
Allman, who played all 40 minutes, scored 24 points on 7-15 shooting from the field and 10-14 FT. He also dished out eight assists which tied a career high. He has eclipsed the 20-point mark 15 times this season.
Three other Titans were in double figures, including Rowe who had 18 points (7-11 FGA) and eight rebounds with two assists. Ahmad totaled 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sophomore guard Austen Awosika scored 10 points and made all five of his shot attempts to go along with three rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal.
LBSU was led by Deishuan Booker (22 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals) and Gabe Levin (22 points and nine rebounds). LBSU shot just 34.9% from the field at 22-63.
CSF will play the semifinal tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. PT at the Honda Center in a rematch of last year's semifinal against UC Davis.
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