Hours after the
In the semifinals against
Hawaii got off to a rocky start, with two of its top players — Big West player of the year Jankovic and senior guard Roderick Bobbitt — in foul trouble. But Long Beach State was ice cold. Guards Nick Faust and Justin Bibbins combined for 16 points in the first half, and the rest of the team was just two of 16.
In place of Bobbitt, sophomore Niko Filipovich — who averages a little more than five minutes a game — played solid defense for an eight-minute stretch and made a layup at the conclusion of the half to put the Rainbow Warriors up, 31-25.
Hawaii's lead peaked at 44-32 with 13:44 remaining, but Long Beach State started knocking down jumpers that it wasn't converting in the first half. Bibbins got his team back in the game with a pair of three-pointers that made it 47-44, and the score teetered back and forth from there.
Faust tied it on a three-pointer with a less than four minutes remaining, but he fouled out on the next possession. Long Beach had a chance to win it on a three-point attempt by Bibbins, but it bounced off the rim.
The 49ers, hoping to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, got 17 points and eight rebounds from Faust, and 12 points with eight assists from Bibbins.