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Long Beach State falls to Arizona in 1st round of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

<div><a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/players/204653/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Caleb Love;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Caleb Love</a> #2 and <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaab/players/153984/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Oumar Ballo;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Oumar Ballo</a> #11 of the Arizona Wildcats battle for the ball against Lassina Traore #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Delta Center on March 21, 2024, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)</div> <strong>(Getty Images)</strong>

SALT LAKE CITY - Anything goes when it comes to March Madness, and unfortunately, No. 15 Long Beach State was no match for No. 2 Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

What’s interesting about Long Beach State’s journey is that they were led by coach Dan Monson, who was informed just ten days ago his time at the Southern California college would expire at the end of the season after 17 years with the program.

Monson was dismissed following a five-day losing streak. However, the team persevered and won all three games in the Big West Tournament.

Long Beach Athletic Director Bobby Smitheran told the Associated Press, "My belief and hope is that by doing what I did and the timing of it, they would play inspired, and that's what they did."

"I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, but it worked," Smitheran added.

On Thursday during the "Big Dance," Long Beach State did a solid job against the Wildcats in the first half until Arizona forward Kylan Boswell took over and finished the half as the only player in double-figures. Long Beach guard Jadon Jones ended the first half with eight points.

Arizona continued to build on that momentum and quickly took a ten-point lead early in the second half while Long Beach appeared to run out of gas.

Bowell led the way and finished with 20 points and 8 assists. Caleb Love, Oumar Ballo, Pelle Larsson and Keshad Johnson all finished in double digits for Arizona.

Long Beach State also had five players who finished in double figures, with Aboubacar Traore and Amari Stroud ending the game with 14 points apiece.

In the end, Long Beach State could not get it done and lost 85-65. This marked Long Beach State's tenth appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

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Arizona will go on to face the winner of the Dayton-Nevada game.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.