LONG BEACH, CALIF. >> Long Beach State’s paint game was too strong for Hawaii in the Walter Pyramid. How effective will it be in the Honda Center next week?
The 49ers pulled away from the Rainbow Warriors to win 84-75 on their senior night, setting up a rematch with UH in the 4-5 matchup in the Big West tournament first round on Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.
Adding to UH’s troubles, it lost forward Jack Purchase to an ankle injury midway through the first half. He watched the second half from the bench.
UH (14-15, 8-8 BWC) dropped to 0-5 at the Pyramid as a Big West member, the only place in the conference it hasn’t won. Noah Allen led the way in defeat with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Leland Green scored 14 points off the bench. Sheriff Drammeh had 12 points and six assists and Gibson Johnson scored 10.
Behind 255-pound forward Temidayo Yussuf’s 23 points on 9-for-9 shooting, the 49ers (14-18, 9-7) dominated points in the paint 44-18, enough to counter UH’s 11-for-19 3-point shooting. Noah Blackwell added 17 points and Justin Bibbins 12 points and six assists for the Beach.
After LBSU shot a blistering 62.5 percent in the first half by getting to the rim repeatedly, the 49ers were held in check for the first 10 minutes of the second, giving UH a few chances to go ahead, but the visitors could not.
LBSU outscored UH 28-8 in points in the paint in the first half — led by Yussuf’s 6-for-6 showing in he period — but UH countered with its 3-point shooting (8-for-13) to stay within 45-39 at halftime.
UH scored the first four points of the second half and had two inside shots to tie it but couldn’t come up with a bucket. The 49ers reclaimed a six-point lead on Yussuf’s seventh straight make.
Green scored on a drive and Allen hit a pull-up jumper in transition to get the ’Bows within two. Evan Payne and Allen traded 3s.
Drammeh had a look at a go-ahead 3, missed, and Blackwell connected on a trey at the other end to push the Beach lead to 59-54 with 10:54 remaining.
Green’s 3 — UH’s 10th — with 9:27 to play brought UH within two. Johnson’s free throw kept UH within 63-60 with under eight minutes left.
Allen spun into a hook shot, UH forced a turnover and Allen hit Drammeh in stride for a bank shot to cut the LBSU lead to 65-64. Payne answered with a shot on the baseline, kicking off a 7-0 run for the hosts to extend to a 72-64 lead.
Allen ended that with a tough lefty layup in transition, but Blackwell countered with his fifth 3, a corner shot to make it a nine-point game.
LBSU continued to work it inside; Yussuf’s baby hook got him to 9-for-9 and Roschon Prince followed up on a miss to make it 81-68 as the 49ers won comfortably.