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Long Beach State hands No. 9 Pitt rare home loss

Nov 17, 2011 - 5:53 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Long Beach State went into the Petersen Events Center and did something only one other non-Big East school has done...beat Pittsburgh.

Casper Ware recorded a career-high 28 points and added six assists to lead the upset-minded 49ers to an unlikely 86-76 win over the ninth-ranked Panthers, stopping Pitt's 58-game home win streak against non-conference opponents.

The 49ers (2-0), the reigning Big West Conference regular-season champions, made 59 percent of their shots, held a nine-point halftime lead and never trailed in the final 20 minutes en route to their first victory over a top-10 opponent since winning at No. 1 Kansas on January 25, 1993.

The Panthers (2-1) were 86-1 vs. non-conference opponents at the Petersen Events Center, losing only to Bucknell on January 2, 2005, but could not slow down Long Beach State's uptempo style.

"We were faster than them and we're a smaller team than them, so we figured if we move the ball we can get open lanes and drive and kick and use each other," Ware said.

James Ennis donated 19 points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds for Long Beach State, which opened its season with an eight-point win over Idaho last Saturday.

Pitt had four double-digit scorers, led by Ashton Gibbs' 20 points. Nasir Robinson added 19 points, Tray Woodall netted 17 before fouling out and Lamar Patterson chipped in 16 in the loss.

Gibbs nailed a three-pointer to pull the Panthers within 62-56 near the midway point of the second half. He made a similar three-ball on Sunday that sparked a late rally against Rider, but a second straight comeback was snuffed out by the visitors.

The 49ers answered with 11 of the next 16 points, going up 73-61 on a Ware three-pointer with under six minutes to play.

They led by six, 82-76, with a under a minute remaining when a turnover gave the ball back to the Panthers. Gibbs, though, was short on a three-pointer, and a jump ball went LBSU's way. Ware's layup in transition preceded another Gibbs miss, and T.J. Robinson made two free throws to seal the upset.

"We knew when we scheduled Long Beach State that they were very good, and we wanted to play an experienced team," Pitt's head coach Jamie Dixon said. "We knew how good they were. I anticipated us being a much better team at this time and obviously we are not where I would like us to be. I want to give them credit for how well they played because they played very well."

Ware broke a 29-29 tie with one of his four three-pointers with five minutes remaining in the opening stanza. His three-point play a little later jump- started a half-ending 8-2 run and gave LBSU a 45-36 cushion at the break.

Momentum stayed on the 49ers' sideline coming out of locker room. Robinson put in a layup off a Ware miss to start things off, and James Ennis threw down a dunk on the next possession, a clear indication Pitt was in for a long night.

Game Notes

Pitt had never lost a non-conference game at the Petersen Events Center in November and December (81-0)...LBSU snapped a 20-game losing streak against ranked teams...Larry Anderson posted 12 points and seven assists for the 49ers, who got 11 points and eight boards from Robinson...Pitt shot 47 percent from the field.