March 9, 2006
Anaheim, Calif. - Aaron Nixon scored 31 points including the final five of the game Thursday night to carry Long Beach State to a 94-91 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Jamaal Brown scored 30 points and Frank Robinson had career highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with almost five mintues to play as the Titans concluded the season with a 16-13 record.
Long Beach State (17-11) advances to play UC Irvine in the semifinals. Kejuan Johnson (16) and Shawn Hawkins (12) were the only other 49ers in double figures. Nixon led the 49ers with 10 rebounds.
Nixon's 3-point play with 28 seconds left gave the 49ers a 92-91 lead. Brown, who had put the Titans ahead, 91-89, with 39 seconds left, had a chance to regain the lead with 15 seconds remaining but he missed a pair of free throws. Nixon was fouled on the rebound and made two free throws with 11 seconds left. Jermaine Harper missed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
"It was a terrific game," said Fullerton Head Coach Bob Burton. "They made the shots at the end -- that was huge.
"I was happy with our kids, but it wasn't the way we wanted to play. We had to play zone after getting into foul trouble and that's where we got in trouble, not the missed free throws at the end."
Fullerton opened the second half with a 9-2 run for the biggest lead of the game at 62-50. But Long Beach quickly cut the deficit to a single digit and caught up for the first time at 75-75 with 10:47 left on a Sterling Byrd 3-point play.
From that point there were seven more ties and neither team led by more than 2 points.
Fullerton made only 7 of 16 free throws and only 1 of 8 3-point tries in the second half after going 13-of-17 and 4-of-11 from those two spots in the first half.
"I didn't want to go home," said Robinson. "Neither I nor this team was ready to end the season."
"It was win or go home," said Jamaal Brown. "When Frank went out I felt I had to take the team on my shoulders. I felt like I was hot."
"This team was fun to coach and it was fun to wwatch the guys compete tonight," said Burton. "I'm proud of them. It wasn't a great year, but a good one as we kept the program going in a positive direction."