Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

Long Beach falls to Fullerton on the road

FULLERTON — Just a few weeks ago the Long Beach State men’s basketball team stood on top of the Big West Conference. Today, it sits in sixth, with only two games left before the Big West tournament.

LBSU (13-16, 7-7 Big West) came out firing on both ends of the floor, but fell short to Cal State Fullerton (16-10, 9-5 Big West) 81-71 Saturday.

“They got more aggressive and we just backed down,” head coach Dan Monson said. “This team is very fragile; we haven’t been able to handle adversity as well as we need to.”

The 49ers played one of their best defensive first halves of the year after holding the Titans to 27 points during the first half, but would let them score 54 to end the game. Long Beach’s defensive identity went missing, which ultimately cost it the match. Fullerton junior guard Khalil Ahmad had a night with 15 points and seven assists, after reaching the milestone of 1,000 points as a Titan.

“We executed the game plan today,” Fullerton head coach Dedrique Taylor said. “This group of guys really understand how we play, and when we play that way we are really good.”

The Titans played consistently all night, shooting 52.6 percent from the field while also draining six 3-pointers. Long Beach struggled to rotate on defense which led to good looks from the perimeter for Fullerton. The 49ers would end the night shooting a dismal 41.7 percent from the field. Fullerton also took advantage of getting to the free throw line and knocking down 15-of-17 of its attempts.

“When adversity hits us we need to be more tough-minded, especially when we’re trying to close games,” Monson said.

Long Beach did manage to out-rebound Fullerton 37-31, but it wasn’t enough to keep them out of the paint. Most of the Titans’ work was done a few feet from the basket, where they outscored the 49ers 44-34. This was in large part due to senior forward Gabe Levin having foul trouble early and sitting out for the first part of the second half.

“Defensively we got ourselves going in the second half,” Taylor said. “We were consistent and we put pressure on their defense to end the game.”

Levin would lead the team with 18 points and four rebounds, while also earning the accolade of being the 12th player in LBSU history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds.

Long Beach will look to win its final road game 8 p.m. Thursday against UC Santa Barbara.

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