The 49ers played a brutal non-conference schedule but that only seemed to make them strong as they dominated the Big West.
Not only were the Long Beach State 49ers picked as the overwhelming favorites to win the Big West this year, but they even got a bit of national attention by picking a pair of votes in the AP Top 25 Poll. Expectations of a huge season were driven upward when the 49ers took down then-No. 9 Pittsburgh in their second game.
But a loss to San Diego State kicked off a brutal run of games in which the 49ers faced four teams ranked in the Top 15 over their next nine and played just three of 11 games at home. The bad news was that they started off by going 2-5 during that stretch. The good news was that they finished that stretch off by winning 3 of 4 that included a win over No. 15 Xavier and in which the only loss was in the final of the Diamond Head Classic to Kansas State. The 49ers also managed to hang tough with teams like then-No. 13 Kansas and then-No. 6 North Carolina, losing by no more than eight in both games and actually leading the Jayhawks at halftime.
That finish seemed to give the 49ers the boost they needed heading into conference play. They won their next 12 games with their non-conference loss to Creighton being the only thing to interrupt their 15-0 start to their Big West schedule. They fell one win short of a perfect conference season, though, when they lost to Cal State Fullerton.
As expected, The Beach rolled to the Big West tournament title, winning all three games by double digits. Long Beach State earned the No. 12 seed in the West Region and will meet New Mexico in the Second Round.
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