Aggies defy odds to beat Long Beach
By Doug Layne
On the other hand, Long Beach State was picked first in both pools. That California team was expected to be dominant in the Big West this year.
At the start of the season, no one thought Saturday's game between these two teams would mean much. For the Beach this was going to be just another conference game.
The Aggies then did the unexpected: they won their first nine conference games.
Going into the game, the Aggies had not beaten the Beach since the 1988-89 season, eleven years ago. The Aggies now are the only undefeated team in the Big West, as they beat the 49ers, who had the longest winning streak in the nation, with a score of 71-63. The Aggies are now 19-5 (10-0)
At the start of the game, Mate Milisa hit two three pointers to give the Beach an early 12-6 lead. The Aggies looked sluggish in the first couple of minutes and had to change their man to man defense to a zone. Then Bernard Rock scored six straight points to tie the game up at 12.
The Aggies, who are known for their quick starts, finally woke up and took the lead for the rest of the game with a Shawn Daniels jumper over a couple of 49ers defenders. The Aggies never looked back again and built on their lead on a Dimitri Jorseen tip in that gave him his eighth of his career high 16 points.
The Aggies enjoyed a 25-4 run and were up by 15. The Beach refused to give in and Ramel (Rock) Lloyd scored six straight points to lead the Beach on a 8-2 run of their own. The Aggies ended the first half with a 36-24 lead.
In the second half, Tony Brown who ended the game with 10, nailed a three pointer to put the Aggies up by 15. The knockout punch seemed just within reach. Then Brad Smith helped the Beach, making a couple of three pointers that cut the lead down to single digits. Then the Aggies refused to be intimidated by the sold out crowd and scored five straight points.
The Beach went on a 9-3 run, with help from Milisa who ended the game with 23. He made four points that brought the 49ers within five, the closest since the first half. The Beach eventually brought the game down to four points, but the Aggies were able to hit their foul shots at the end of the game. The Aggies shot over 47 percent on the night and held the Beach, who leads the league in field goals shooting to 40 percent shooting on the night "I am really stunned, we just hung in there and its amazing what you have to do to win on the road," Coach Stew Morrill said. The Aggies now are 9-0 against teams from the Golden State. They will play their next conference game against Nevada Reno, who they just played last Thursday. USU will return home on Saturday to play Pacific.