Long Beach State junior guard Justin Bibbins chose a good time to have his best game of the season as the 49ers beat Cal State Fullerton Thursday 76-65 in the Walter Pyramid.
Bibbins tied his career-high with 26 points, making five 3-pointers, dishing out five assists and three steals while leading LBSU to its third straight Big West win.
“I was just feeling it,” Bibbins said. “This team has multiple scorers and we look for who is hot. Tonight that happened to be me and my teammates found me.”
LBSU coach Dan Monson envisioned the duo of Bibbins and freshman guard Loren Jackson doing well together earlier this season and had he finally saw the two get the offense going firsthand against the Titans.
“They are both great passers and offensively that’s not going to be an issue,” Monson said. “I do like that line up and the way our bench is right now I think [Loren Jackson] has been a real spark plug coming off of it.”
With LBSU (9-14) as winners of three straight games, the team earned Monson’s 100th Big West victory in his 10-year career, becoming the seventh coach in the conference to reach the mark.
CSUF (8-10) senior guard Tre’ Coggins, the Big West leading scorer with 18.3 points per game, was not in the starting line up and was held scoreless in 13 minutes played.
The Titans sophomore Kyle Allman Jr. scored a team-high 15 points and filled in for Coggins as the guard didn’t get any playing time in the second half.
With LBSU dominating the first half to build a 14-point lead with 3:54 left, the team saw that lead cut in half when Titans’ sophomore Khalil Ahmad banked in a buzzer-beater from half court.
Momentum shifted to the Titans after they opened up the second half with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 35-35 after freshman guard Jackson Rowe threw down a dunk.
The Titans tied the game at 46-46, but 49ers junior guard Evan Payne nailed a 3-pointer. After a block by junior forward Roschon Prince, Bibbins found Prince on the other end for an uncontested layup to open up a 7-0 run by LBSU.
The 49ers’ defense helped close out the game with 10 blocks and five steals, only allowing four fast break points.
Prince grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to go along with nine points and four blocks.
“Every game is a battle,” Prince said. “This was a rivalry game on TV and I know a lot of our opponents don’t get that. It’s extra motivation.”
LBSU will play their next game on Wednesday when they travel to Cal State Northridge at 7 p.m. and will be looking for its fourth straight victory.