March 3, 2012
Fullerton, Calif. -
D. J. Seeley scored 27 points and Orane Chin just missed a double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds Saturday afternoon to lead Cal State Fullerton to a 77-74 Big West Conference victory over Long Beach State before a raucous crowd of 3,458 that included hundreds of students from both campuses.
The Titans (21-8, 12-4) clinched at least a tie for second place and complete their home conference record unbeaten (8-0) for the first time since 1982-83 and finished 13-1 overall at home. Fullerton will be the No. 2 seed in the Big West Tournament next week at the Honda Center and open with No. 7 seed UC Irvine.
The 49ers (22-8, 15-1) got 20 points from Mike Caffey off the bench and 13 points and 9 rebounds from T. J. Robinson but saw several winning streaks snapped in the regular season finale. Long Beach had won its last 23 Big West games including 11 on the road. They were denied the fifth undefeated conference season in school history and failed to match the feat last accomplished in the Big West by Pacific in 2004-05.
Seeley made 5 of 6 3-point tries and scored 7 of his points in the final 2:29 beginning with a 3-pointer that gave Fullerton a 69-67 lead. After Robinson tied the game, Seeley hit two free throws with 54 seconds left that put Fullerton ahead to stay. He (2 of 2) and Kwame Vaughn (4 of 4) combined to hit 6 free throws in the final 32 seconds. Casper Ware, who hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left to draw Long Beach within 75-74, missed a long, hurried trey attempt at the final buzzer.
"The key was we finally got some stops down the stretch," said Fullerton Coach Bob Burton. "We can score, but we were just trading buckets with them until we hit back-to-back threes around a stop. D. J. really stepped up and Zeke (Isiah Umipig) did a great job on Ware (2 of 15 shooting, 10 points, 7 assists) with help from our big men. They hedged hard on the double teams and stayed with him. We gave up some easy buckets but you have to give up something."
Fullerton led by three, 35-32, after a see-saw, poor-shooting first half that saw 7 ties and 9 lead changes. A 9-1 run early in the second half gave Fullerton its biggest lead of the night at 47-39 at 16:07. But Long Beach went on an 11-2 surge to lead 50-49 at 13:04. Chin (10:49) and Omondi Amoke (9:37) picked up their fourth fouls and Long Beach pulled ahead by 7, the last time at 65-58 at 6:41. But Seeley hit a trey and two free throws to make it 65-63. After a Eugene Phelps bucket, Umipig and Seeley hit treys around a 1-and-1 miss by Ware and Fullerton had regained the lead.
"I'd say this was the biggest win of the year, this and the Santa Barbara game, but this is first," said Seeley. "It gives us very good momentum going into the tournament next week.
"I'm not a very good free-throw shooter but I just tried to shoot it like I do in practice."
Seeley made 12 of 14 and the Titans were 20 of 25. Long Beach was 10 of 27. In a loss at Long Beach on Jan. 28, the Titans shot only four free throws in the entire game while the 49ers were 14 of 26.
The 49ers lost Larry Anderson to an injury early in the second half. He had 8 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes.