Long Beach Men’s Basketball News: Returns To Big West Championship Final Saturday Night against UC Davis

3 16 2024





The Beach aims to advance to March Madness for the 10th time in program history.


HENDERSON, Nev. — Long Beach State and UC Davis will meet Saturday night in the Big West Championship final for the opportunity to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with live coverage nationally on ESPN2.

Game:………………….. (4) Long Beach State vs. (2) UC Davis
Date:……………………………………… Saturday, March 16, 2024
Time:…………………………………………………………….. 6:30 p.m.
Location:……………………………………………. Henderson, Nev.
Arena:…………………………. Dollar Loan Center Arena (6,000)
TV:…………………………………………………………………… ESPN2
TV Talent:………………………. Roxy Bernstein, Corey Williams
Webcast:………………………………………………….. WatchESPN
Radio:……………………………………………………. 22 West Radio
Live Stats:………………………………………. beachlivestats.com

• The two teams split the regular season meetings, with Long Beach State rallying for a gritty 78-74 win in Davis, while the teams closed the regular season in Long Beach March 9th, with the Aggies cruising to an 88-78 win.

• Aboubcar Traore had a memorable night to lead LBSU to a second round win over UC Riverside, recording the first triple-double in Big West Championship history and just the second-ever in Beach history. With 12 points, 11 rebounds and a LBSU tournament record 13 assists, Traore made it all happen while Lassina Traore had his 15th double-double of the season, AJ George scored 21 and Marcus Tsohonis had 19 in LBSU’s 86-67 win behind shutdown defense in the second half.

• Long Beach State is seeking their 10th trip to the NCAA Tournament, and the second under Dan Monson. In the tournament format, Long Beach State has won the Big West Championship on five occasions, most recently under Monson in the 2011-12 season with current assistant coach Larry Anderson as a senior.

• Long Beach State is competing in the championship game for the sixth time under Dan Monson, including for the second time in the last three years. The Beach is just 1-4 in those games, however, including a loss in 2021-22 to Cal State Fullerton in the most recent trip. As the regular season champions in that season, the Beach advanced to the NIT, the last postseason trip for the program.

• Executive Director of Athletics Bobby Smitheran and Dan Monson announced on Monday, March 11 that Monson will be departing from Long Beach State at the conclusion of the 2023-24 campaign.

• Long Beach State has officially changed the nickname for all sports other than baseball to Beach with the NCAA. Please do not refer to Long Beach State Basketball as the 49ers at any time.

• Long Beach State stole the national spotlight with a 84-79 OT win on the road at USC in Bronny James’ first collegiate game with LeBron James sitting courtside. Senior Marcus Tsohonis led the team with 28 points while Jadon Jones added 18 in the win over the Trojans, the first since 2013 for LBSU and the first since 1987 in Los Angeles.

• Marcus Tsohonis has brought his best against the best, scoring 35 points in a win at Michigan and 28 in win at USC. The senior passed 1,000 career points scored across stretches at Washington, VCU and Long Beach State and has twice scored 30 or more in two seasons at LBSU. The team’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game, Tsohonis set a program record with 46 points in a triple overtime win at UCSD last season.

• Long Beach State is now 13-1 when scoring 80 or more points this season, and are averaging just under that total this season at 77.9 points per game as a team behind five players averaging double figures in Tsohonis, Jadon JonesLassina TraoreAboubacar Traore and AJ George.

• The Beach closed the non-conference schedule with a record of 8-4. That was the best winning percentage for the Beach since a 7-4 record in the 2006-07 NCAA tournament season, and the most wins since an 8-3 non-conference in 1999-2000.

• The Beach returned all five starters from 2022-23 and returned nine letterwinners. That depth has paid off as Long Beach State has grabbed a win with 11 different starting lineups, tied for the most in Division I this season.

• Long Beach State plays a fast, exciting brand of basketball showcased by the team’s tempo, which is one of the quickest in the nation, currently 28th in the country as ranked by Ken Pomeroy.

• Coming out of the Ivory Coast, Long Beach State’s dynamic inside duo of Aboubacar Traore and Lassina Traore have ranked 1 and 2 in the rebounding for the Big West in each of the last two seasons. Reunited over 7,000 miles apart from where they met as youth national teammates and friends in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the duo have served as the starting frontcourt in the majority of games they have played together at  LBSU. Both were named All-Big West for a second straight season.

• Long Beach State upset the regular season champions UC Irvine in the Big West Championship semifinals in large part because of another historic performance from Aboubacar Traore. Traore score 20 points with 8 rebounds and 7 assists, going 12-of-13 from the line and passing 1,000 career points scored as a junior, becoming the 26th player in program history to reach the milestone.

• Aboubacar Troare became the third player in program history to record 800 career rebounds and currently ranks 3rd at the Beach with 817 career rebounds. He also ranks 3rd in career blocked shots, and is rounding into a nightly triple-double threat. Those all-around stats have placed him with a legendary trio of players who have scored 1,000 points, grabbed 500 rebounds and made 300 assists in their career.

• Aboubacar Traore is also one of just two players to record 100 steals and 100 blocks in his career, and ranks second in blocked shots at Long Beach State. Jadon Jones needs just nine blocks to join that elite defensive group.

• In the NCAA, only junior Aboubacar Traore and Rice 5th year senior Max Fielder have recorded 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks in their careers.

• Aboubacar Traore, who set the modern-era record at LBSU with 23 rebounds in a game in 2021-22, and is averaging a new high of 12.1 points per game as a junior while bringing in 8.1 rebounds per game and leading the team in assists, steals and blocks, one of just four players in the NCAA to lead a team in those three categories. His 22 rebounds against Cal State Fullerton earlier this season are tied for the second-most in a regulation game in Division I this year.

• Aboubacar Traore repeated as the Best Hustle Player in the Big West and earned First Team All-Big West honors for his efforts this season. In conference play, Traore averaged 12.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists and ranked in the Top 10 in rebounding, assists, blocks and steals throughout the year.

• Other honorees included Lassina Traore, who earned Second Team honors as an All-Big West selection twice in two years, while senior Marcus Tsohonis was named Honorable Mention after ranking eighth in the league in scoring during Big West action.

• Lassina Traore earned Second Team All-Big West honors in 2023-24, All-Big West for the second year in a row after a First Team All-Big West and was chosen the Big West Newcomer of the Year after a dominant first season at the Beach. Traore also earned NABC All-District honors, finishing the season with 17 double-doubles which ranked 9th in the nation.

• In 2023-24 Lassina Traore is one of just 17 players in the NCAA to average a double-double with 11.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and has 15 double-doubles this season, leading the Big West, just in front of Aboubcar who has 8 in second place.

• Lassina Traore is chasing a pair of single-season records. With 14 rebounds the junior could claim the single season rebounding record at Long Beach State, and is two away from matching his own high along with Long Beach State Hall of Famer TJ Robinson with 17 double-doubles in one season.

• Junior Jadon Jones has raised his scoring average to 12.4 points per game and is shooting nearly 40% from three this season, and became the 25th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. Jones now ranks 17th all-time in scoring at Long Beach State.

• The 2021-22 Big West Defensive Player of the Year, Jadon Jones has 54 steals and 30 blocks as a strong defensive presence while continuing to be a major threat from three. Averaging 12.4 points per game, Jones currently ranks 3rd in program history with 215 made 3-pointers in his career and joined Jibril Hodges, Greg Plater, Casper Ware and Lucious Harris as the only LBSU players to have made 200 career 3-pointers.

• Jones ranks seventh in career blocks and eighth in steals at Long Beach State, and last week passed a recent Beach legend in Gabe Levin who commanded the post for three seasons ending in 2017-18 and is competing professionally in the NBA G-League to sit 17th in career scoring at LBSU.

• After an impressive debut season last year as a redshirt freshman, AJ George continues to play a major role for the Beach as a sophomore. After starting 25 games a year ago, George is averaging 10.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a consistent presence in the rotation. Starting 13 games in Big West play, George lifted his scoring average to 11.6 points per game in league action, including a career-high 28 points at CSU Bakersfield.

• Graduate transfer Messiah Thompson has also given the Beach a lift at the point guard position. Thompson is averaging 6.1 points per game, providing more quickness and experience as a great shooter and ball-handler. In his second start of the season at Cal Poly, Thompson scored nine points and passed 1,000 Division I points scored over stops at Campbell, Alabama A&M and the Beach.

• Senior Amari Stroud continues to play a big role off the bench. Stroud played a major role in each of the first two games of the Big West Championship, scoring 9 points with 5 rebounds against UC Riverside, before scoring 11 points with three blocks in Long Beach State’s upset of UC Irvine. A senior, Stroud is an outstanding defender and active big man who complements the up-tempo pace favored by the team.

• Redshirt Freshman Jason Hart Jr. has emerged as a strong depth option at the point for the Beach, joining the rotation and putting up career highs of 6 points and 5 rebounds against Life Pacific after a strong outing at home against Sacramento State. His defensive effort was a big part in Long Beach State’s comeback win on the road at UC Riverside, and made his first start against UCSB making a career-high five assists.

• Also playing in the point rotation is another transfer in Isa Silva. Silva was a consensus national Top 100 recruit coming out of Jesuit High School in Sacramento two seasons a year ago, and comes to the Beach after two years in the rotation with Stanford, playing 64 games with the Cardinal. This season, Silva started the first 14 games of the year and is averaging 2.6 points per game.

• Chayce Polynice also returned to action after missing the first three games of the season at Michigan, providing another crucial avenue of post depth for the Beach. Poylnice averaged 3.3 points and 1.6 rebounds per game with pair of double-figure scoring contests last season.

• Among the reserves, Varick Lewis has played in 30 games as a true freshman, making 13 3-pointers. Jeffrey Yan has played in over 50 games as he enters his sixth year at the Beach, bringing a veteran presence to Long Beach State’s forward depth. Son of head coach Dan MonsonMaddox Monson has also featured this season in a depth role, making the biggest impact at UC San Diego, where he made the steal and assist leading to AJ George’s game-winner in triple overtime in 2022-23.

• Long Beach State continues to have an outstanding record in the Walter Pyramid. Since the start of the 2008-09 season, the Beach has piled up a 137-46 record at home, winning nearly 80% of their games in the iconic building. Per Ken Pomeroy, Long Beach State also sports the second best home court advantage in the Big West.

• Head Coach Dan Monson is the winningest coach at Long Beach State, with more victories than basketball luminaries such as Jerry Tarkanian, Tex Winter, and Seth Greenberg who have also coached at the Beach. The Beach now has over 1,000 wins in program history, with Monson having won over 250 of those games. Monson also captured his 400th career win over three stops at Gonzaga, Minnesota and the Beach on 2/8/23 at home against Cal State Fullerton. Monson also claimed his fourth Big West Coach of the Year award for his efforts in leading the Beach to the 2021-22 Big West regular season title.

• Long Beach State legend Larry Anderson has joined the coaching staff as the team’s third assistant. One of the “Fab Four” for the Beach that started for four straight years leading to the 2011-12 NCAA Tournament appearance, Anderson is the program’s steals record holder and ranks in the Top 10 in career scoring, rebounding and assists at LBSU as one of the best all-around players to ever put on the uniform at Long Beach State.

• The Monson family legacy continues here at the Beach, as a third generation of the family joins the coaching ranks. Dan Monson‘s father Don Monson was a Division I head coach as well, leading Idaho and Oregon. Now, in addition to Maddox Monson joining the program as a walk-on, MicGuire Monson is also collaborating with the coaching staff in 2022-23 as a Graduate Assistant.

• In terms of legacy, the Beach also has a pair of sons of NBA veterans on the team. Jason Hart Sr. was a standout point guard at Syracuse before a ten-year NBA career, and is currently the head coach of the NBA G-League Ignite. Olden Polynice, father of Chayce Polynice played college ball at Virginia and was a Top 10 NBA Draft Pick. Polynice then played for 15 years in the NBA, scoring over 8,000 career points with 7,000 career rebounds.

• Long Beach State added a pair of signees in the November window, welcoming point guard Kam Martin and big man Vianney Salatchoum as commitments. Martin is an exciting combo guard, a playmaker who can score from three levels. Salatchoum is an elite shot blocker who at 6-11 is having a breakout sophomore season at Panola CC.