LBSU off to best start under Wynn

The Beach withstood the Waves on Saturday afternoon before beating the Mavericks on Sunday.

After a three-game stint of road games against California, Nevada and San Francisco, where the ‘Niners found themselves 1-2 to start the season, the Long Beach State women’s basketball team (4-2) is back on the winning track.

The 49ers defeated Pepperdine 74-61 on Saturday, followed by a 77-61 game against Nebraska-Omaha.

The win against Pepperdine was LBSU’s third-straight win of the season and third straight victory over a West Coast Conference team. Before this season, the 49ers were winless in eight games against the WCC since Jody Wynn took over as head coach in 2009. LBSU took a commanding lead in the first half against Pepperdine, going on a 15-0 run early.

The 49ers improve to 4-2 with wins over UNO and Pepperdine.

The 49ers then continued to pour it on with the first 10 points going on the Perry Moore Scoreboard in just 75 seconds of play.

Junior forward Lauren Spargo, the team’s leading scorer at 12.3 points per game, was the key source of the ‘Niners’ production in the first half, as she outscored the entire Waves team for the first 14 minutes with 14 points. “I don’t really have the mentality of, ‘Oh, I just want to be a scorer,’” Spargo said. “I feel like it’s more just starting to happen for me, and I know I’ve had the potential like this. [The coaches] have always believed in me, and I think it’s finally just shining through.”

Spargo, who also grabbed eight rebounds in the game, walked off the court with a career-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting. However, she cooled off in the second half, and with that temperature change, the 49ers needed someone to step up with the unexpected play of one Pepperdine player.

The Waves brought the game to single digits on the shoulders of freshman Allie Green, who scored a game-high 27 points in her first career start for Pepperdine. The LBSU freshmen stepped up simultaneously, allowing Wynn to run an all-freshman lineup late in the game when Pepperdine made a run that brought the game to single digits.

“They increased the lead, rebounded and brought a lot of energy,” Wynn said. “Little things here and there will come with experience and communication, but we’re really excited that we got to put all five [freshmen] out on the floor tonight.”

Besides Spargo, the only players to score in double figures were freshmen. Madison Montgomery recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 boards, Anna Kim scored 12, and Raven Benton accounted for 11 of her team’s points.

Within 24 hours of the final buzzer sounding against Pepperdine, the 49ers suited up to play visiting Nebraska-Omaha. UNO kept the game close for an early portion of the first half, but an and-one by Benton off an offensive rebound sparked a 13-4 run by The Beach.

Ella Clark followed that with a right-handed sky-hook, and by the end of the half, the 49ers had a commanding 43-25 lead. Clark continued her stellar play in the second half with back-to-back threes early, scoring eight points in a three-minute span when none of her teammates could.

“[Ella] was a huge spark for us,” Wynn said. “Offensively she struggled the first five games of the year and wasn’t happy with herself. But instead of going into the tank and being emotionally and mentally out of the next game, she took a more mature approach.”

Good defense by LBSU paired with poor shooting from the Mavericks allowed The Beach to sustain a 20-point lead for much of the second half. A late run by the Mavericks cut the lead to 12 with five minutes to go. UNO junior Felicia Anderson netted a pair of three’s late to make things interesting. But UNO’s late run wouldn’t be enough, as LBSU went on to win 77-61 and improve to 4-2 on the season, giving the 49ers their best six-game start since 2005-06.

“Most importantly I think it was important for us to take care of home court and protect the Pyramid,” Wynn said. “We have enough experience to now win on the road like we did at USF. I think this is where we should be.”

Next weekend the 49ers will be back on the road for the ASU Classic in Tempe, Ariz., where LBSU is set to face Harvard on Saturday and either Arizona State or Sacred Heart on Sunday.

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