‘Niners defeat Dons in double OT

The third time was the charm for the Long Beach State women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon in a double-overtime thriller against San Francisco.

The 49ers (1-2) traveled to San Francisco on Sunday looking for their first win of the year after opening a three-game road stint with losses to Cal and Nevada. Thanks in large part to impressive showings from freshman Raven Benton and junior guard Alex Sanchez, the 49ers were able to earn their first win of the season, winning 85-82.

Raven Benton (20) played a key role in Sunday's game and it was the third time this season that a freshman lead the team in scoring.

Raven Benton (20) played a key role in Sunday’s game and it was the third time this season that a freshman lead the team in scoring.

Before LBSU suited up to play San Francisco (1-2) on Sunday, the only lead the team had held this year was in the season opener against Cal. An Alex Sanchez free throw gave the 49ers a 1-0 lead that ended up lasting just seven seconds in that ended up lasting just seven seconds in that game.

The 49ers showcased an aggressiveness on defense that was yet to be seen before Sunday afternoon. That aggressiveness combined with a bunch of forced passes from San Francisco allowed the 49ers to go into the locker room with a lead at the half for the first time this season.

“We were pretty successful with our presses,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “Not only did it slow them down a little bit, but we were able to create turnovers off our presses and our defense ignited our offense.”

With 51 seconds left in the game and LBSU leading 60-55, San Francisco’s Taylor Proctor netted a three to make it a one-possession game.

San Francisco native Hallie Meneses tried to answer back with a three of her own but came up short. The missed shot was rebounded by Benton, who got the ball out of the post before San Francisco intentionally fouled Sanchez to send her to the line.

Sanchez made the first and missed the second, allowing a three-pointer by San Francisco player and Long Beach native Taj Winston to send the game into overtime deadlocked at 61.

“In the first half [Winston] had two points but had nine monster rebounds, and she really turned it on in the second half and overtime,” coach Wynn said. “She tried to put her team on her back. She nailed some big, big threes tonight.”

LBSU took an early lead in the first overtime thanks to five points by Benton. Unfortunately for The Beach, Proctor’s free throws at the 15-second mark sent it into a second overtime.

After Sanchez missed a three to finish the first overtime, the 5-10 guard scored four of LBSU’s first seven to open the second overtime.

For more than two minutes of the second overtime, neither team missed. San Francisco’s Winston hit a three that Lauren Spargo quickly matched, making it a 75-73 game.

Winston, who struggled offensively to start the game, hit a jumper that was answered by a Sanchez layup made possible because of a post-up hesitation move. The Dons’ Rachel Howard scored a three of her own which was again answered back by Spargo to make it 80-78.

Missed threes by San Francisco allowed the ‘Niners to pad its lead, and a Madison Montgomery offensive rebound on her own missed free throw sealed the win for LBSU.

“It was a total team win,” Wynn said. “Even the kids in street clothes were big factors tonight keeping the energy high. Our team was resilient, and I’m just very proud of their overall mental toughness throughout the game.”

LBSU was lead by both Sanchez and Benton, who each scored season-highs. Benton accounted for 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting and collected nine rebounds. Sanchez tallied 19 points and had seven boards to go along with four assists and two steals.

The ‘Niners are set to play their first home game this Saturday against Loyola Marymount.

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