March 11, 2006
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Aaron Nixon made a 3-point shot at the buzzer Friday night to put Long Beach State into its first tournament final in 11 years with a 75-73 victory over UC Irvine in the Big West Conference Tournament semifinals.
Nixon finished with 28 points for the third-seeded 49ers (18-11), who will play top-seeded Pacific for the championship Saturday night.
Jibril Hodges added 18 points and Shawn Hawkins had 16 points as Long Beach set a school and tournament single-game record with 17 baskets from 3-point range.
Ross Schraeder scored 17 points for the second-seeded Anteaters (16-13). Darren Fells added 13 points and seven rebounds, Mark Kelley had 11 points and Aaron Fitzgerald passed for 10 assists.
UC Irvine, which led by as many as eight points in the first half, took a 73-72 lead on Shamar Armstong's off-balance jump shot with 15.1 seconds to play.
Nixon received the inbound pass with 5.2 seconds left, dribbled to the left side, almost lost the ball after bumping into Fells and shot from the left corner.
The 49ers last played for a tournament championship in 1995, when they defeated Nevada in overtime for the Big West Tournament title.
The Anteaters, who were second nationally in 3-point shooting at 42.3 percent when the tournament began, made 7-of-21 shots from 3-point range.