ANAHEIM, Calif. – Orlando Johnson scored 23 points to lead UC Santa Barbara to a 64-56 win over top-seeded Long Beach State on Saturday night in the championship game of the Big West tournament.
Fourth-seeded Santa Barbara (18-13), which beat Long Beach State in last year's conference tournament, earned its second consecutive trip to the NCAAs.
Long Beach State (22-11) fell behind by 10 in the first half before clawing back to tie it at 27 at halftime. Santa Barbara took control with a 14-4 run midway through the second half.
The 49ers pulled within six points in the closing minutes, but a 3-pointer by Jon Pastorek with a second left on the shot clock and pair of free throws by James Nunnally gave the Gauchos a 61-50 lead with 1:19 left.
The Gauchos, who fell to Ohio State in the opening round of the NCAAs last year, lost six of 10 games entering the conference tournament.
Casper Ware scored 14 points for the 49ers, who shot just under 29 percent (19 for 66).