CHAMPS!! Long Beach State going dancing after 74-70 win in Big West Championship

Beach will face Arizona Thursday at 11 a.m. on TBS

Long Beach State rallied from an eight-point deficit in the second half behind dominant post play from Lassina Traore to defeat UC Davis 74-70 in the Big West Championship finals, securing their spot in March Madness for the first time since 2011-12.

Long Beach State (21-14) raced out to a massive lead behind a hot streak from senior Marcus Tsohonis on the night. After a slow start for both teams, Tsohonis hit four straight baskets to set Long Beach State up with a 15-5 lead with under 11 minutes in the first half.

UC Davis (20-13) bounced back, going on a 20-2 run to take an eight-point lead with minutes remaining in the first half, and the Aggies led at the break, 32-27.

In the second half, Long Beach State rallied by establishing Lassina Traore in the post. Traore, who had six points in the first half, finished with 19 points in the second and played a huge role in the LBSU victory.

Down five with 9:18 remaining, Tsohonis hit a 3-pointer after an offensive rebound from AJ George, and then the Beach got a paint touch from Lassina Traore to tie the game at 54-54. The next trip down, Aboubacar Traore found George in the corner for a three to give Long Beach State their first lead since the first half with seven minutes remaining.

A three from Jadon Jones extended the lead to two possessions at 60-56, and Long Beach State looked to be in control. TY Johnson helped the Aggies pull to within one with a big basket with 1:57 to play, but the Beach hit Lassina Traore one more time to push the lead back out to three.

After a defensive stop, Tsohonis was fouled to put the lead back up to two possessions, and Aboubacar Traore and Tsohonis closed out the victory from the free throw line, sending the Beach to the NCAA Tournament.

Lassina Traore finished with 25 points and 9 rebounds, while Tsohonis shared the scoring lead with 25 points as well. Aboubacar Traore finished with 7 points, 6 assists and 13 rebounds as the guiding force for the Beach in 35 minutes of action.

Long Beach State secures their second Big West Championship title under Dan Monson, who is now 2-4 in title game appearances at the Beach. LBSU and Monson announced that the head coach and the program would part ways at the conclusion of the season.

Aboubacar Traore was named the Big West Championship Most Outstanding Player, while Marcus Tsohonis and Lassina Traore also both made the All-Tournament Team.

The Beach will continue its season in the NCAA Tournament, starting Thursday at 11 a.m. against University of Arizona in the West Region bracket. Arizona was slotted as the No. 2 seed in the region, while Long Beach State was given a No. 15 seed. The Beach and Arizona have met seven times since 1987, all in Arizona, with the Wildcats winning all seven meetings.