Monday, March 12, 2012

Ticket Punched: Aggressive non-conference scheduling could continue to pay off for Long Beach State ()

Some might look at Long Beach States Big West tournament title game win on Saturday night and wonder if it was really necessary for Dan Monson to go out and schedule the nations strongest non-conference schedule. The 49ers notched what at the time were very impressive victories over Pitt and Xavier, while hanging tough before falling in games at North Carolina, Kansas, Louisville, San Diego State and in Hawaii against Kansas State. They went 7-6 against that schedule that included seven teams expected to be included in the NCAA tournaments field of 68. They earned loads of respect along the way for not only scheduling those games, but playing well in every one of them. And they set themselves up for a Big West season with little room for error. Long Beach didnt lose a league game until the regular season finale and dropped its BracketBuster contest at Creighton, and entered Saturdays title game having not only lost to UC Santa Barbara on that stage each of the last two years, but needing to win to leave themselves without a reason to sweat on Sunday night. And now, all of the talk of whether theyre worthy of an at-large bid or not is moot. Long Beach State finally exorcised its Big West title game demons with one of its finest performances of the season, squashing the Gauchos, 77-64. The driving force, as has been the case for much of the season, was star senior point guard Casper Ware, who scored 33 points to go with his six assists. The game was tied at the half, but he hit a slew of early 3-pointers in the second half to gradually help the 49ers pull away. He had a four-point play and another one of his eight 3-pointers during a crucial 12-0 second half run that lit the fuse. Not much later, a wild celebration erupted on the Honda Center floor in Anaheim, Calif. Immediately afterwards, too, Long Beach State became the team that no 4-, 5- or 6-seed wants to see itself lined up against when the brackets are announced.


Parker Kligerman Trevor Bayne Out! Pet Care Toyota Jason Leffler

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