Long Beach State takes down LMU in home opener

The rim appeared to be ocean-sized for the Long Beach State women’s basketball team in Saturday night’s home opener, as the 49ers shot 57 percent from three to help them get their first win against Loyola Marymount since 1996.

In a game that was back-and-forth in the first half, LBSU remained consistent from downtown while LMU was unable to maintain the same consistency in the second half.
49er juniors Lauren Spargo and Hallie Meneses kept The Beach (2-2) on top early and nailed six of their nine attempts from long distance.

Lions’ senior guard Hazel Ramirez helped the Lions keep the game close in the first half, as she was able to connect on both of her three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes.

Long Beach State takes down LMU in home opener

Unfortunately for LMU (1-4), Ramirez was unable to keep up with the 49ers pace from beyond the arc, finishing the game 2-for-5 from long distance. But even with her poor shooting late, Ramirez was able to make it a game when most of the 1,723 people in the stands thought it was over.

“[Ramirez] is a smart, crafty senior point guard that knows how to get fouls and unfortunately we celebrated being up,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “We just let up. I thought our second half defense — outside of the last three and a half minutes — was outstanding team defense. I just think we let up and you can’t do that against a great player like Hazel Ramirez.”

Improved team defense in the second half helped LBSU extend a lead that was in the 49ers’ possession for the majority of the game, and better performances from the upperclassman helped the 49ers garner their second straight victory.

Although her offensive numbers weren’t overly impressive, what Alex Sanchez did on the defensive end played a large role in how the game played out. Her six steals in the contest were a career best, and she was able to register 26 minutes without a single turnover.

“Alex has a great nose for the ball,” Wynn said. “She just makes plays. She might not have 20 points and 10 rebounds, but she’s going to do a little bit of everything throughout the game.”

Freshman forward Raven Benton grabbed 10 boards to go along with a team-high 16 points in her first game at home. It was the first time a freshman registered a double-double in her first game at the Pyramid since Brandi Henton did it in 2010.

“It feels great to win at home in my first home game,” Benton said. “As a team, coming together and getting the win just makes me happy.”

The hot start helped LBSU get to .500 for the first time since last season.

“I’ve always felt we could shoot the ball,” Wynn said, “but I don’t think we’ve had the confidence in ourselves all the time to shoot well consistently … They shot the ball well tonight, but it’s just one game.”

Next Saturday the 49ers will be looking to move above .500 for the first time this year as they host Pepperdine. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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