LONG BEACH — Long Beach State’s six-game winning streak came to an end on Thursday, falling to UC Santa Barbara 75–72 in a down to the wire battle.
In a game that had 16 ties and 11 lead changes, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara battled all the way to the final seconds. After a costly turnover, Beach State saw themselves trailing by one (73–72) with under 30 seconds left and needing a stop. After a clutch stop, Beach State immediately went off to the fastbreak to get a quick bucket, with sophomore guard Tone Hunter finding Jadon Jones for the open three but hitting the back iron to fall short.
“I’ll take Jadon (Jones) with that shot any day of the week,” said head coach Dan Monson.
Beach State was able to get the ball back down three (75–73) with 3.1 seconds remaining, with junior Marcus Tsohonis taking it the length of the floor, shooting a contested three, and just missing, giving Long Beach their first loss since January 14th.
“I’m always preaching to them, ‘next game, next play,’” Monson added on Thursday’s loss. “We got to move on from it. We don’t have time.”
Beach State’s top scorer, Marcus Tsohonis, struggled to stay consistent from the field, shooting just 1-for-13 (7%) from the floor on just 2 points scored.
After Thursday’s loss, Long Beach State sits 5th in the Big West at 14–11, while UC Santa Barbara remains in 1st with a 19–4 record.
Long Beach State’s next game comes on Saturday, February 11th, against CSU Bakersfield at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.
• Long Beach State has won six straight and is riding a ton of momentum into the week. Sophomore Lassina Traore has played a big part in that run with a double-double in all six games. Now with 14 on the season, Traore ranks 3rd in the nation in double-doubles, 4th in rebounding, and is one of just 15 players in Division I to be averaging a double-double on the year.
• Coming out of the Ivory Coast, Long Beach State’s dynamic inside duo of Aboubacar Traore and Lassina Traore continue to rank 1 and 2 in the rebounding rankings of the Big West. Lassina leads the league with 11.0 rebounds per game, while Aboubacar is second at 8.9 per game. Reunited over 7,000 miles apart from where they met as high school teammates and friends in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Lassina Traore joins Aboubacar Traore at the Beach where the pair have been the starting frontcourt for LBSU in every game this season.
• Long Beach State continues to feature a fast-paced offense, ranking 3rd nationally in average tempo according to Ken Pomeroy. The Beach have also hounded teams on defense, leading the Big West in steals at 7.5 per game, rebounding at 42.8 per game and ranking second in blocks at 3.54 per game.
• The Beach trails just #3 Alabama in rebounding nationally this season, one of nine programs of 363 in Division I to be averaging over 40 rebounds per game as a team.
NEWS & NOTES
• The Beach have been very effective inside, averaging over 40 points per game in the paint and are second in the nation in percentage of points from 2-pointers, working effectively in both transition and from the halfcourt in getting productive shots.
• Senior Joel Murray will not return this season, as his wrist injury sustained on January 7 at UC Irvine will require surgery. Murray led Long Beach State in scoring this season at 15.7 points per game while also contributing 3.8 assists per game. A first-team All-Big West selection a season ago, Murray scored in double-figures in all but two games he played and was averaging over 17 points per game in league play.
• Long Beach State opened the season with a key non-conference road win, traveling to Riverside and coming away with a 79-64 win over California Baptist. Lassina Traore debuted with a double-double, leading the way for LBSU with 13 points and 12 rebounds Jadon Jones shared in the team lead with 13 points as well, while Tone Hunter dished out six assists in his Division I debut.
• Against Life Pacific, the Beach set new highs in points (97) rebounds (61) and assists (31) in a dominant win over Life Pacific that saw both Traores finish with double-doubles and five players score in double-figures in a 97-52 victory in the first home game for Long Beach State in over three weeks.
• Marcus Tsohonis enters Saturday as Long Beach State’s leading active scorer, averaging 15.7 points per game. A seasoned Division I transfer with experience at VCU and Washington, Tsohonis has scored over 20 points six times, setting a Long Beach State program record with 46 points at UCSD before putting up 21, 21, and 28 in three straight wins for Long Beach state. He also scored 23 points in a key non-conference win against Vermont at Baha Mar Hoops. Tsohonis is second in the Big West in scoring during conference play at 19.3 points per game.
• The reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Year, Jadon Jones has 30 steals and 17 blocks, leading LBSU despite missing five games this season, and ranks in the Top 10 in the Big West in both categories in league play. Leading the Beach in 3-pointers made this season, Jones is averaging 7.9 points per game as an all-around threat for the Beach. Jones became the 18th player at LBSU to hit 100 career 3-pointers and can rapidly climb that list this season, currently 11th in school history as a sophomore and four away from joining the Top 10.
• Aboubacar Traore set the modern era record for Long Beach State with 23 rebounds in a game as a true freshman, and has started off the new season again among the rebounding leaders for the Beach and the Big West. Averaging 8.9 rebounds per game, Traore is also averaging 9.9 points per game, an increase on his output from his freshman season while recording eight double-doubles, including 16 points and 16 rebounds at USC.
• Lassina Traore, a Division I transfer from Saint Louis, has picked up 14 double-doubles and has started every game this season. Traore is averaging 11.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game at the Beach, leading the league in rebounding. Traore is in the Top 10 nationally in both double-doubles and rebounding. Additionally, he cracked the Top 15 in single-season rebounds at Long Beach State, and is closing in on TJ Robinson’s school record of 17 double-doubles in a season.
• Sophomore Tone Hunter has taken an increased role and is now serving as the team’s primary point guard. Hunter was a prolific junior college scorer, averaging 17.8 points per game as a true freshman, and is averaging 7.3 points per game and averaging 2.8 assists per game as well, second-most on the team. Hunter has started since January 12 against Cal Poly at point and is scoring 9.7 points per game in league action.
• Redshirt freshman AJ George has been pressed into the starting lineup due to injuries at the Beach, and has stepped up. In his first season, George is averaging 7.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. George has started in 16 games, and is shooting a very good .560 percentage from the field on the year. He set a career-high with 17 points at UC San Diego, scoring eight points in the third overtime, including the game-winner.
• Also on the wing, Tobias Rotegaard had his best game of the season, leading Long Beach State in scoring with 16 points off the bench at Utah Valley. Second on the team in 3-pointers made this season, Rotegaard has played in all but one game for LBSU, now in his second season at the Beach.
• In the frontcourt, a pair of junior college transfers have made an immediate impact. Amari Stroud is averaging 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game and improving on both of those numbers in Big West action, while Chayce Polynice is averaging 3.7 points per game while playing in 20 games.
Both players are active big men who complement the up-tempo pace favored by the team.
• Among the reserves, Jeffrey Yan has played in 46 games over five years at the Beach, bringing a veteran presence to Long Beach State’s forward depth. Son of head coach Dan Monson, Maddox Monson has also featured this season in a depth role, while Jason Hart Jr., Matt Fegurgur and Shaumba Ngoyi are slated to redshirt this season.