In its final home game of the season, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team will host Cal State Northridge on Thursday for Senior Night inside the Walter Pyramid.
With just two games left, the 49ers (16-18, 8-6) are eliminated from the regular season title race. Head coach Dan Monson said it has been difficult on the coaching staff and team not having the opportunity to win league.
“As I told our guys the other day, in the competitive picture it’s tough,” Monson said. “[But] in the big picture of getting better and trying to win the league tournament and trying to the get to the NCAA [Tournament], we can use that adversity and make it a positive.”
The emergence of sophomore guard Travis Hammonds, who got his first start of the season in the 70-47 Feb. 28 win against Cal State Fullerton, has given the 49ers the third scorer they have lacked for much of the season. Hammonds scored a season-high 16 points against the Titans.
“It’s not too late [to make a run in the Big West Tournament],” Monson said. “Hopefully the Travis that we expected to have all year will give us the game we know he’s capable of in March.”
Hammonds only played 21 minutes in the win, but he said he was ready to play however many minutes Monson and the team needed.
“I’m capable of playing 30 minutes,” Hammonds said. “Do I need to play 30 minutes? Probably not, because we have a good team. We have players that are picking it up. We have players that are playing for others now. But when it’s my time to go I’ll [be ready].”
The 49ers are coming their best offensive performance in their last eight games. Senior point guard Mike Caffey said he thinks the team figured how to get to the rim easier against Fullerton and that will help them moving forward.
“[Our shooting] opened up the floor because we had a couple guys making shots,” Caffey said. “We got Travis and [senior guard] McKay LaSalle going. [Fullerton] was focusing more on them, which opened it up for me. It gave me some room to get some shots up and get something going for me.”
The 49ers will honor their five departing seniors against Cal State Northridge (9-22, 4-11): Caffey, guards Tyler Lamb and LaSalle, and forwards David Samuels and Eric McKnight. The athletic department is planning a postgame ceremony for the five players.
LBSU is going for the season sweep of Northridge after beating the Matadors 64-58 on Jan. 24. Samuels led the way against CSUN with a double-double, scoring 16 points while grabbing 11 boards.
Senior forwards Stephan Hicks and Stephen Maxwell are the offensive leaders for the Matadors. Hicks and Maxwell are CSUN’s top two scorers at 16 and 14.5 points per game, respectively.
The 49ers will host CSUN on Thursday for Senior Night inside the Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m.