Long Beach State wins Big West title, takes coach Dan Monson dancin' in final season with Beach

Sun, Mar 17, 2024
NCAAB News (AP)

Long Beach State wins Big West title, takes coach Dan Monson dancin' in final season with Beach

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) - Lassina Traore had a career-high 25 points, Marcus Tsohonis scored 25 and hit two clutch free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining to help No. 4 seed Long Beach State beat second-seeded UC Davis 74-70 on Saturday night in the championship game of the Big West Conference Tournament, sending coach Dan Monson to the NCAA Tournament in his final season with the Beach.

It was an improbable run for the Beach after the school announced on Monday it would part ways with Monson after 17 seasons.

Lassina Traore sank 12 of 17 shots and his only free throw for Long Beach State (21-14), which entered the tournament on a five-game losing streak before beating No. 5 seed UC Riverside and top-seeded UC Irvine to reach the final. He added nine rebounds, five of them at the offensive end. Tsohonis hit 8 of 21 shots with four 3-pointers and 5 of 6 foul shots.

Aboubacar Traore, no relation to Lussina, finished with seven points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Beach. AJ George added nine points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Ty Johnson paced the Aggies (20-13) with 30 points, six rebounds and four assists. Elijah Pepper hit four 3-pointers and scored 21, adding nine rebounds and three assists.

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Johnson had 11 points and Pepper scored 10 to guide UC Davis to a 32-27 advantage at halftime. Tsohonis had 15 points at the break to keep Long Beach State close.

Lussina Traore scored 19 in the second half. His rebound basket pulled Long Beach State even at 54-all and George followed with a 3-pointer to give the Beach a 57-54 lead with 7:29 remaining. It was their first lead since 15-12.

UC Davis closed to within a point twice and trailed 72-70 on an Ade Adebayo layup with 4 seconds to go, but Tsohonis was clutch at the line to wrap up the win.

Monson, who started Gonzaga's unprecedented run of success when he led the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight in 1999 before leaving to take over an embattled Minnesota Golden Gophers program and turning Gonzaga's reins over to Mark Few, has the Beach in the Big Dance for the first time since he took them 2012 when LBSU was known as the 49ers.

Monson leaves as the school's winningest coach. He currently has 275 victories against 272 losses.

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