49ers clinch Big West title

first_imgtelevised game that gave the 49ers outright possession of their first conference championship since 1996. MEN’S BASKETBALL 49ers 82, Pacific 76 STOCKTON — The last time the Long Beach State and University of Pacific men s basketball teams hooked up, the 49ers rolled to a 28-point victory in the Walter Pyramid on Feb. 3. Things were a lot closer — to say the least — Monday night during the rematch in UOP s Spanos Center. But Coach Larry Reynolds and his Long Beach team came out of the building with the desired result, a victory (82-76) in a nationally Thursday: vs. UC Irvine Walter Pyramid, 7:05 p.m., KVMD Aaron Nixon, whose 24-footer from in front of the UOP bench a split second before intermission banked in for 3 points and a 39-32 lead, finished with 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists to help his team improve to 20-7 overall and 10-2 in conference. The 49ers, hitting the 20-victory mark for the first time in seven years, return to the Walter Pyramid Thursday night to play UC Irvine in their final home game of the season. center_img “Aaron played a super game, Reynolds said. “He was the one factor that kept us in the lead. He hit some big shots for us, including that 3 at the end of the first half. That extended the lead for us and put pressure on them. “I just like the fact that we clinched the title. The guys have worked really hard. Just to have them be called champions is enough satisfaction for me. Forward Sterling Byrd add 16 points and nine rebounds for the 49ers, who won their fourth consecutive Big West road game. Byrd s biggest points came after a penetration and pass from Kevin Houston to him in the deep left corner, where he drilled a 3-pointer to push Long Beach s lead to 77-70 with 1:18 remaining. After Anthony Esparza s jumper from the left wing cut the Tigers deficit to five points five seconds later, Kejuan Johnson of the 49ers was fouled and hit one of two free throws with 47 seconds remaining. Michael White (26 points, 19 of those in the second half) missed a 3-pointer from the left corner and Nixon was fouled and sank his 31st and 32nd points to go for an eight-point lead with 28 seconds to go. Nixon scored 27 points when the 49ers beat the Tigers 92-64 in the Walter Pyramid a little more than three weeks ago. Getting eight consecutive points on a couple of Nixon 3 s and a fast-break dunk by Byrd, the 49ers pushed their lead to 54-41 and forced UOP Coach Bob Thomason to call time out just six minutes into the second half. Long Beach closes its regular season Saturday evening at UC Riverside. The Big West tournament gets under way on March 7 in the Anaheim Convention. But the 49ers, as the No. 1 seed, have a bye into the March 9 semifinals. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more