This past weekend was the Big West Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim- and it was filled with surprises and upsets. Many lower seeded teams rose up to beat their opponents, and the biggest upset (only to the LB fans) was the final game between Regular Season Conference Champions Long Beach State and Defending Big West Champions UC Santa Barbara. LBSU was seeded #1 and UCSB was #5. Just by looking at the way both teams played this season, many people expected Long Beach to come in and sweep up all of the competition. The one thing that people overlooked was the fact that UCSB is an experienced team, especially when it comes to winning championships. The entire weekend I followed and filmed all of the UCSB games. Anyone who saw their first game against Pacific could tell that this was still the same winning team from last season. They continued to blow right past Pacific, then the next day they went right past Cal State Northridge. UCSB’s record against these teams during regular season was 0-2. They really were going by the saying “its hard to be a team 3 times”. The only true test to prove if this quote would carry them to the championship, was to beat Long Beach State – another team they had been 0-2 against during the regular season. For anyone that doesn’t know, these were also the two teams that went up against each other last year at the 2010 Big West Tournament. It was a very close game all the way down to the wire, until the very end when UCSB made some important stops and continued to make shots. I had anticipated this would be an amazing game, but I knew there was a big hype and following for Long Beach to win. I had faith in UCSB, and I sat on their side during the entire game to follow them and their reactions throughout. UCSB started off with a lead, and things were starting to look to be in their favor. Long Beach State wasn’t so ready to give up, so they started to come back towards halftime, and by the time the first half was over, the score was tied at 27 points.
The entire season had come down to 20 minutes of basketball to determine this years champions. Although Long Beach tried their hardest, they were no match for the defensive stops and the offensive points that UCSB was consistently getting. The night before UCSB had shut down Cal State Northridge’s best players as well, giving them a great advantage to just make points happen on the offensive side. With time winding down, UCSB had a steady lead throughout the game. At times the game was only within 6 points, but LBSU was unable to come back for the win. UCSB won the game with a final score of 64 to 56. This is UCSB’s second consecutive Big West Tournament Championship, and it automatically puts them in the NCAA Tournament. Orlando Johnson was awarded MVP of the game – there was also great performances by James Nunnally, Jaime Serna, Justin Joyner, and more..
They will travel to Tampa to play Florida on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 3:50PM PDT. I think that UCSB has some amazing players and I wish them all of the best luck with advancing in the NCAA tournament!!
Here is a small preview video I made. Last year with less than a second left on the clock, LBSU fouled UCSB’s James Nunnally and sent him to the free throw line to secure a solid win over the 49ers. This year with seconds left of the clock, LBSU fouled James Nunnally again to send him to the free throw line, and his celebration reminded me of last year, so I put the two clips together. Stay tuned for all of the game footage and pictures from every game this past weekend!