Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

Caffey leads LBSU past Fullerton

FULLERTON, Calif. – Senior point guard Mike Caffey’s second half heroics carried the Long Beach State men’s basketball team past Cal State Fullerton in a 91-85 overtime win Thursday night.

Down 11 points with just over four minutes to play in regulation, the 49ers (11-11, 5-1) went on a 13-2 run to tie the game at 73. Sophomore guard Travis Hammonds hit a pair of jumpers and Caffey took care of the rest by hitting three consecutive threes.

“Mike was as frustrated as anybody,” head coach Dan Monson said. “But when it was time to win the game, Mike Caffey showed why he’s one of the elite players in this league. Or in the country, I should say.”

Monson said that frustration came from Cal State Fullerton (8-13, 0-6) outplaying LBSU in the first half. The Titans were up 42-36 at the break after senior guard Alex Harris hit a deep triple at the buzzer.

“[CSUF] dictated that game for 35 minutes,” Monson said. “We couldn’t get them out of rhythm offensively, and when we did, we couldn’t keep them off the [offensive boards]”

Caffey scored a career high 34 points on 12 of 22 shooting, including five of 11 from beyond the arc. Still, he said he didn’t think his defense was very good. The only thing on his mind was winning the game.

“As bad as we played we were only down by six,” Caffey said. “So I felt like we were going to get our run going. We kind of struggled at the beginning, but we finished it off.”

One of the adjustments Monson made was coming out in a little more zone, something he said didn’t work.

“We tried everything,” Monson said. “I don’t know if they’re called adjustments or spaghetti against the wall. We went small at the end and switched the ball screens and that helped us a little bit the last six or eight minutes. Offensively we finally got them on their heels and Mike was able to get in attack mode a little bit because we got some stops defensively.”

Not to be overlooked was senior forward David Samuels, who recorded another double-double by scoring a career-high 22 point with 13 rebounds. Monson called Samuels’ performance “awesome” and said he has grown a lot as a player in just a short time.

“It’s cliché to say he’s the man,” Monson said. “But from last year just hanging around the three-point line to [this year], being a real inside presence for us. Everything but make free throws he did it all tonight. 23 [points] and 13 [rebounds] is just an unbelievable line.”

Caffey echoed his coach’s praise for Samuels.

“Great game,” Caffey said. “He’s turning into a rebounding force for us. We’ve lacked that all season. He’s doing a good job doing that right now. He’s doing a pretty good job on offense too.”

The 49ers will return home to the Walter Pyramid on Saturday at 4 p.m. to take on Hawaii in another nationally televised game.

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