Long Beach State visits Hawai’i on hot streak

Warriors freshman guard Tom Beattie scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists in their 77-71 loss at UC Santa Barbara. (Chris Kadooka file photo)

This week might have been a good time for the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team to enjoy a rare Thursday bye, but it’s probably not the best time to play host to Long Beach State.

The red-hot Beach comes into Saturday’s 7 p.m. game in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center riding a five-game winning streak, including a 79-66 home victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday. The game will be televised live statewide on Spectrum Hawai’i Channel 12, and broadcast live via radio on ESPN Honolulu 1420AM.

CSULB is 18-9 overall and 10-5 in the Big West Conference, good for fourth place. The Warriors are 15-12, 7-8, in sixth place.

UH is coming off a 77-71 loss at UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 17. When the Warriors traveled to Long Beach State on Jan. 18, The Beach pretty much took control early en route to a 79-71 win.

In Thursday’s victory, AJ George scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench and Lassina Traore added 15 points, six boards and four assists. Marcus Tsohonis contributed 15 points and Aboubacar Traore added 11 points, all on free throws.

“I think it’s a credit to Long Beach, they were hovering around .500, they’ve gone a streak now to get them to (10-5) so they’re coming in playing really well,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “They do have tremendous balance, and they get a lot of easy baskets. (They’re) one of the quickest up-tempo teams, they’re dynamic on the boards, especially on the offensive boards.

“You’re talking (about) a team that has two guys that are basically averaging double-doubles, and you surround that with a guy like Tsohonis who is leading the team in scoring, (and) really good in transition. Jadon Jones is playing his best basketball, shooting the ball as well as anybody from 3, so that’s an inside-out attack, they have an ability to get easy baskets and force turnovers.

“So they definitely have a lot of momentum coming in, it’s a great challenge that we’re looking forward to.”

Hawai’i has experienced a bit of resurgence itself, after a 2-6 league start that was the worst since joining the Big West in 2013. A big part of that has come from the play off the bench. In particular, freshman guard Tom Beattie has been especially impressive of late, scoring 15 points with six rebounds and three assists off the bench at Santa Barbara on Feb. 17.

“He learns, he’s a quick learner,” Ganot said. “He’s just gotten better and better, and he’s been someone who has helped us consistently over the course of the year and he’s had more breakthroughs recently.”

Beattie, a 6-fot-4 wing who is from Aukland, New Zealand, brings international experience and fearless confidence not often seen in true freshmen.

“Older players have really pushed me, and I’ve had to kind of hold my weight for so long, it’s kind of made me realize I’ve got to do that here, too,” Beattie said. “I gotta keep pushing.”

The bench play has been especially important in the past month, after losing back up center Mor Seck for the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament and point guard JoVon McClanahan for the past four games due to an injured shoulder.

McClanahan traveled with the team on the recent road trip but did not play. Ganot said he is progressing and hopes to be cleared for Saturday’s game.


  1. UC Irvine (13-2)
  2. UC San Diego (12-3)
  3. UC Davis (11-5)
  4. Long Beach State (10-5)
  5. CSUN (8-8)
  6. HAWAI’I (7-8)
  7. UC Riverside (7-9)
  8. UC Santa Barbara (7-9)
  9. Cal State Fullerton (5-10)
  10. Cal State Bakersfield (5-11)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-15)

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