After a season opener last Friday that brought the Long Beach State women’s basketball team up to No. 9 California, the 49ers are set to make that trip three times in two weeks, flying to “The Biggest Little City” on Friday to face Nevada in Reno and then visiting “The City” 48 hours later to take on San Francisco.
Despite the lopsided 70-51 loss to Cal at Haas Pavilion, there were plenty of positives for the 49ers to take away from the matchup that they can apply to upcoming games.
“On the road against the No. 9 team in the country, every odd is stacked against us, and we were able to take a lot of positives out of the game,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “I was very proud of our overall effort and learning from our mistakes.”
Nevada and San Francisco don’t offer the overall strength and athleticism of Cal, but both teams aren’t to be taken lightly.
LBSU came out on the positive end of a 61-58 overtime thriller against the Wolf Pack last year, when then-sophomores Alex Sanchez and Bianka Balthazar stepped up in a major way for The Beach. Sanchez was a rebound short of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds while Balthazar scored a team-high 16 points.
Nevada (1-0) comes into the Friday night contest boasting junior big-woman Mimi Mengedi, who leads her team with 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting. The 49ers’ backcourt will need to keep an eye on Terilyn Moe, who added eight points and seven dimes in Nevada’s win last week against Utah Valley.
San Francisco (1-1) is set to play host for LBSU as The Beach closes out the three-game road stint. The Dons split their season-opening weekend in New York, where they lost to Fordham 80-66 and beat Columbia 83-69. Junior guard Hallie Meneses will be tested in front of her friends and family this Sunday, as the Bay Area native will be matched up with Long Beach native Taj Winston, who led Long Beach Poly High School to a No. 2 national ranking when she was a senior in 2011.
“[Meneses] had a taste of that at Cal, being across the bay,” Wynn said. “But being at San Francisco — a mile or less from where she grew up — and being able to play a game she loves so much in front of her friends and family is huge.”
Winston has started her season scoring at an impressive 18 points per game clip. The 49ers will also need to know where Rachel Howard is at all times, as she’s shooting an incredible 55 percent from beyond the arc.
“Transitioning from offense to defense and defense to offense quicker; we worked on that a lot the past few days,” Wynn said. “And then just overall communication in what we’re in offensively as well as what we’re doing defensively.”
After this weekend, the 49ers will be done bouncing around up north from The City to The Biggest Little City. They will finally play host to Loyola Marymount in Long Beach on Nov. 23 for “Pack the Pyramid Night.”
Tickets to the game will be available for $5, and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House.