Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

LBSU heads into the postseason with a big win against UC Riverside

With 2:35 left in the match, senior forward Gabe Levin checked out of game at the Walter Pyramid for the last time in his collegiate career. The crowd of 2,930 gave him a standing ovation, and Levin went out the way he wanted to — with a win in his house.

“We did it the right way by playing the right way, the ball got to the open man,” Levin said. “I’m so thankful and grateful for all the support I’ve gotten here.”

After Thursday’s match against UC Irvine that ended with a game-winning full court lay up by junior guard Deishaun Booker, Long Beach (15-17, 9-7 Big West) picked up where it left off and finished its season with a 77-59 blowout victory over UC Riverside (9-21, 4-12 Big West). The 49ers locked in the fifth seed in the Big West with the win, ending their regular season on a high note.

Levin ended his regular season career with 17 points, five rebounds and one assist. Accompanying him to lead the charge was Booker, who ended the night with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. It was a special moment for both players, and it felt like the torch had been passed down by Levin to Booker.

“Everything the coaches have been riding me on is finally starting to make sense,” Booker said.

Defense was the key for Long Beach, limiting Riverside to 41.8 percent shooting and out-rebounding them 41-27. The 49ers led by as many as 24 and finished the night shooting 46.8 percent.

“We set the tone at the start of the game with six straight stops,” head coach Dan Monson said. “I’m really excited for our guys because I think we finally have some confidence on the defensive end.”

The offense started to flow after junior Bryan Alberts’ stellar first half after struggling since his return to the starting lineup. He scored the first five points of the game and finished the first half on 4-8 shooting. Alberts ended the match with 15 points and three rebounds.

Long Beach had one of its best first halves of the season after scoring 43 points and keeping UC Riverside to only 27 points.

“When we defend well we don’t get frustrated when things don’t go our way on the offensive end,” Monson said. “What we’re doing is working, and we are starting to gain confidence in our approach and game plan.”

The second half was filled with emphatic dunks and the 49ers had fun with their showtime-esque style of play.

Long Beach has a short week to prepare for the Big West tournament, and Monson will have light practices before the team’s matchup against Cal State Fullerton.

“We want to stay sharp going into the tournament,” Monson said. “I have to remind the guys that we’re one bad four minute stretch from going home.”

Long Beach heads to the Honda Center at 2:30 p.m. Thursday to take on Fullerton in the first round of the Big West tournament.

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