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Long Beach State goes old-school, beats CSUN in Gold Mine

LONG BEACH — The Long Beach State basketball team was forced to step into its past on Saturday evening in an attempt to firm up its future.

Because of a leaky roof at the Walter Pyramid, Long Beach moved its Big West Conference game against Cal State Northridge to the Gold Mine, an on-campus auxiliary gym that hadn’t hosted a men’s game in 29 years.

LBSU didn’t let the unfamiliar, cozy surroundings get in the way of its quest to move up in the standings, posting a 71-64 victory over the Matadors to end a three-game losing streak.

“Long Beach State had a lot of success in that gym and I told our guys, ‘In 16 years, I’ve never had to coach a game in here,’ and it was kind of an honor to know the coaches that have done that here, from Tex Winter to Jerry Tarkanian to Seth Greenberg,” Long Beach coach Dan Monson said. “They roamed those sidelines and we needed their karma today.”

Lassina Traore had 18 points and six rebounds and Aboubacar Traore narrowly missed the program’s first triple-double with 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for Long Beach (16-14 overall, 10-8 Big West), which remains a half-game behind UC Davis for sixth place in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season.

UC Davis (17-12, 10-7) was unable to play Cal State Fullerton on Thursday because of a lack of healthy players and the game was ruled a no-contest, but the Aggies managed to beat last-place Cal Poly, 58-52, on Saturday with seven players.

Marcus Tsohonis contributed 12 points in a reserve role for LBSU and AJ George finished with 11.

De’Sean Allen-Eikens scored 21 points and Ethan Igbanugo finished with 19 points for CSUN (7-23, 4-15), which has not won a road game this season.

The Matadors played without leading scorer Atin Wright (16.7 ppg), who sat out with a leg injury.

Northridge pulled even at 61-all on a dunk by Fidelis Okereke with 3:42 left, but that was the final field goal for the Matadors.

Lassina Traore tipped in a miss to give LBSU a 66-62 lead, and Tsohnis made a long 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 69-62 with 1:45 remaining.

“They were trying to take the cheese and goad us into taking jumpers, and we kept going in the paint,” Monson said. “I think our team executed good down the stretch when we needed to and, hopefully, that’ll be a springboard because we’ve had a lot of close games this year and we’ve got to get better at them.”

The Matadors shot the ball well from distance for most of the first half, but Long Beach shot the ball better overall and took a 35-28 lead into the break.

CSUN sank six of its first nine attempts from behind the arc to take a 20-18 lead, Tsohonis scored seven points in a 9-0 run that put Long Beach ahead 27-20 with 8:13 left in the first half.

Lassina Traore.and Aboubacar Traore each missed the front end of one-and-one free-throw situations late in the first half, but they combined to make three of four from the line in the final 1:39 to move LBSU back ahead by seven at the intermission and match its biggest lead of the first half.

Long Beach shot 63.6% from the floor in the opening half and 59.1% for the night.

The Matadors missed their final three 3-point attempts in the first half and finished 8 for 18 from long range in the period.

Long Beach scored the first three points of the second half to stretch its lead to double figures at 38-28, but it didn’t last long as the Matadors responded with a 7-0 run. LBSU later built a 55-44 lead, but CSUN made a final push with an 8-0 run to get back into it.

“We didn’t play great, we didn’t play bad, it was just an odd game,” Monson said. “Credit to Northridge, they looked like they were at home. Very comfortable, made a lot of big shots and really tested us, but our guys were resilient at the end.”

LBSU is expected to return to the Pyramid for its Senior Night game against Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday at 7 p.m., when the team will recognize its lone senior, injured point guard Joel Murray.

TSOHONIS! #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/EZAFUHwPP8

— LBSU Men’s Basketball (@LBSUMBB) February 26, 2023

AJ George from three! Big energy here in the building! #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/6SDA31GV25

— LBSU Men’s Basketball (@LBSUMBB) February 26, 2023

Huge air in a huge game from Aboubacar Traore! #GoBeach pic.twitter.com/atV1nTpfif

— LBSU Men’s Basketball (@LBSUMBB) February 26, 2023

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