By Jarrod Castillo Staff Writer
Yet another season ended in misery for the Beach after they were eliminated by the Cal State Fullerton Titans in the first round of the Big West Tournament with a final score of 76-74.
The game did not start favorably for LBSU: They shot 2-11 and quickly tallied three turnovers. LBSU got into a flow offensively by moving the ball and getting their star forwards, senior Gabe Levin and junior Temidayo Yussuf, involved in the offense.
The first half was tightly contested, with both teams trading baskets, but the Beach managed to go into halftime with a 35-31 lead. Deishuan Booker led all scorers with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting while junior guard Kyle Allman Jr. had 11 points and three assists for the Titans.
“We’re forcing things on the offensive end,” LBSU head coach Dan Monson said to Fox Sports West at the end of the first half. “We were trying to get it into the paint too much.”
Both teams came in to second half scorching hot, shooting over 50 percent from the field for most of the half. Nonetheless, LBSU and Fullerton were inconsistent on the defensive end, instead letting their offense carry them.
The defensive end wouldn’t pick up until the waning moments of the match, when both teams still had a realistic chance at coming away with the win.
Nonetheless, freshman guard Jordan Roberts fouled Allman Jr. with only 8.6 seconds left, which sent him to the free-throw line. For the Beach to have a chance at winning or forcing overtime, Allman Jr. would have to miss one of the two free throws.
Allman Jr. managed to have an efficient night from the charity stripe, hitting 10-of-12 free throws. Although he confidently walked to the line for his shots, he missed both attempts, giving LBSU a chance to win it.
While they still had a timeout to use, Monson opted to let the team take the ball up the court for the final shot.
With 8.2 seconds left, Booker took the ball up the court and attempted a shot, which rimmed out. Levin then skied in for the putback tip-in over three Titan defenders, but the ball hit left iron and landed in the hands of Rowe as time expired.
“You feel for the guys because they take the brunt of that,” Monson said postgame via the 562.org Twitter. “Temi[dayo Yussuf] and Gabe [Levin] struggled in there.”
It wasn’t just Yussuf and Levin that struggled as LBSU went into a scoring drought in the last 2:30 of the game, at one point going 0-of-8 and 1-of-13 overall in the pivotal moments. This inefficiency doomed the Beach as they ultimately fell to the Titans.
Fullerton had four players score in double figures, led by Allman Jr.’s 24 points. Both Booker and Levin had 22 points for LBSU, which is a career high for the former.
With Levin graduating, it remains to be seen which route Monson will take with LBSU. However, it is assured that the team will miss Levin’s presence, be it in the locker room or on the floor next season.