HONOLULU, Hawai’i – Justin Bibbins sank two free throws to give Long Beach State a two-point lead with 3.1 seconds left in regulation, but Noah Allen of Hawai’i converted a lay-in as time expired to force overtime, where the Rainbow Warriors went on to beat the Beach 114-107.
Long Beach State (6-14, 1-3 Big West) dodged foul trouble throughout regulation on the road at Hawai’i (8-9, 1-2 Big West), but picked up two crucial fouls in the first 70 seconds of overtime that helped swing the game to the Rainbow Warriors. On the opening tip, Leland Green came away with the ball free on the offensive end and gave Hawai’i the lead in the first few seconds as Justin Bibbins was called for a block, resulting in a three-point play and fouling out the junior point guard.
Temidayo Yussuf followed with his fifth foul with 3:50 remaining, and the Beach struggled shorthanded the rest of the way as the Rainbow Warriors outscored the Beach 23-16 in the overtime period and led the entire way.
In contrast, the majority of regulation favored the Beach, who held the lead for over 38 minutes in a high-scoring affair. Two threes from Evan Payne opened up a nine-point lead at 25-16 for Long Beach State with 11:13 left to play, and LBSU went into the locker room up 47-40.
It felt as if neither team could miss in the second half, as Long Beach State shot 57.7 percent, but was outdone by the Rainbow Warriors’ 66.7 percent, helping fuel the Hawai’i comeback. Long Beach State eventually take its largest lead of the game at 13 points on a Yussuf jumper, but Jack Purchase answered with one of his seven three of the night, and Hawai’i would go on a 10-2 run to cut the LBSU lead to five points.
Long Beach State led by five with 2:38 left after a Noah Blackwell 3-pointer, but Purchase answered with a trey, and after a Roschon Prince finish swirled the basket and dropped out, a foul would send Sheriff Drammeh to the line to shoot a pair. The sophomore made both, leading to the final sequence as Bibbins was sent to the line.
Offensive numbers dominated the night for both teams. Long Beach State had six players finish in double-figures, led by Payne who scored a season-high 27 points. Noah Blackwell tied a season high with 17, and Prince finished with his second straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Those efforts were offset by a trio of Hawai’i players who finished with 25 points each; Green, Purchase and Allen. The Rainbow Warriors finished the evening outshooting the Beach 60.7 percent to 53.7 percent.
Long Beach State returns to the Walter Pyramid in the team’s next game, hosting UC Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 10. That game will be televised live on Fox Sports West.