Long Beach State’s inconsistent season had its final gasp Thursday. The 49ers never got any traction in a 79-72 loss to Hawaii in the Big West tournament at the Honda Center.
The Rainbow Warriors shot 52% from the field and had four players score in double figures, led by Garrett Nevels (17 points).
“It’s tough to go out early,” Long Beach Coach Dan Monson said. “They hit us early and we didn’t have an answer.”
Hawaii (21-12) cruised through the first half, with guard Mike Caffey scoring 21 of his team-high 27 points to keep Long Beach (16-17) within reach, 47-41, at halftime. The 49ers appeared ready to take control of the game, leading, 64-58, with nine minutes left. They made only three more field goals.
A jump shot by Caffey tied the score, 70-70, with four minutes left. The 49ers then missed their last five shots.
“Good teams find their way to a win,” Hawaii Coach Benjy Taylor said. “We found a way. We haven’t been in this situation a lot in the last 12-14 years. That is the first time we have won a first-round game in a while.”