49ers respond from loss to UCI with British Night win over UCR

The Long Beach State women’s basketball team split their games against UC Irvine and UC Riverside, falling at UCI 78-58 on Thursday before defeating the Highlanders at the Walter Pyramid, 65-52.

Both games featured slow starts out of the gate, with the 49ers not hitting double figures until the five-minute mark against the Anteaters. On Saturday, both teams managed to score just five points in the first seven minutes of play.

But while LBSU was unable to recover from their slow start on Thursday, freshmen Raven Benton and Anna Kim made sure the same couldn’t be said on British Night.

“Raven Benton did a really nice job,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “She got frustrated at times, but she got offensive rebounds and did a good job of controlling the glass. She finished around the rim really well, which then made her relax in terms of her perimeter game.”

Raven Benton comes off the bench to lead LBSU past the Highlanders.



Pyramid to go British

Junior forward Ella Clark won’t be blowing the candles out at home, but she will be celebrating her 22nd birthday inside a British-themed Walter Pyramid with her sisters.

Following the Saturday game against UC Riverside, the 49ers will be hosting British Night at the ‘Mid to help send Clark and her teammates to the land of Big Ben, Fish and Chips and David Beckham.

“I’m not sure what the whole game entails, but I’m hoping to see a flag that big hanging up in the Pyramid,” Clark said as she looked up at the giant American flag displayed inside the Pyramid.

But while there may or may not be a giant British flag flying in the ‘Mid that night, it will be the closest thing to hoops outside of the states.

The LBSU women’s basketball team will host British Night at the Pyramid after a game Saturday.


49ers’ comeback effort falls short in loss at UC Davis

DAVIS, Calif. – The Long Beach State women’s basketball team was forced to come from behind for a second time in as many games this week, but the final result yielded a different outcome as it lost to UC Davis, 63-60.

Unlike the game against UC Irvine on Thursday, the 49ers were unable to extend their lead to anything of significance because of a rough night shooting and an inability to establish themselves at the free throw line.

However, despite the rough night on offense in which the 49ers shot just 35.6 percent compared to the Aggies 44.2 percent, The Beach was presented with multiple chances to take the game late thanks to a healthy combination of good team defense and unforced turnovers by UC Davis.

“We dug ourselves into a hole, and they played really well in the first half,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “We were able to recover on defense in the second half and our presses were really good.”

With about eight minutes left in in the first half, a rare four-point play by Idit Oryon sparked a 17-2 run for the Aggies and would eventually hold a 39-28 advantage at the half.

Long Beach State has a chance to send the game into overtime, but missed threes leads to a 63-60 loss. 

49ers advance to Beach Classic finals

The Long Beach State women’s basketball team won its first game of the Beach Classic with all three captains scoring in double figures for the first time this season.

Juniors Hallie Meneses, Alex Sanchez and Ella Clark were three of five players to score in double figures on the evening, and it was their impressive shooting in the second half that ensured the 73-61 first round victory and never let the Spiders see the lead.

“I hope we’re setting the example for our team,” Meneses said. “When we’re in it, we want [everyone else] to be in it. It doesn’t have to be scoring, it could just be defensively.”

Before the second half got underway, Game 1 of the Beach Classic was available for the taking, with LBSU not fully in control of the game despite a 40 percent field goal percentage compared to Richmond’s 27 percent.

“I don’t remember talking about any bad shots after I do in certain games, and that’s the extra ball movement,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “Certainly taking good shots also helped the percentages.”

The Spiders, who beat Miami and Virginia Tech in their buildings this year, were able to put up eight more shots than The Beach in the first half, but the 49ers made better use of their shots, scoring two more baskets than the Spiders in the half.

The scoring difference in both halves came down to baskets in the paint, as LBSU had 14 points compared to Richmond’s eight, a six-point difference at the half when the 49ers had the 30-25 edge.

At the end of 40 minutes, the 49ers had a 12-point lead in both the final score and points in the paint totals. The 49ers got the game started off how they’d love to start every game: keeping their opponent to four points in the first eight minutes. During that stretch, The Beach scored 7 unanswered, to give themselves a cushion to work with.

However, given the game of runs that basketball is, the Spiders were able to chip away at the lead to bring the game within one. And anytime the game got close the 49ers fought back on both ends and established a lead that flirted around double-digits for the majority of the night.

The 49ers saw a season-high five players score in double figures

Long Beach State falls to San Diego without a shot at winning

Sometimes there’s only so much studying you can do.

Undefeated San Diego proved to be the test the Long Beach State women’s basketball team knew it would be, as the Toreros handed the 49ers their ugliest loss of the season, 68-51.

In a game that started off a four-game home stand for LBSU, few things went well for The Beach as the 9-0 Toreros – who were voted second in the West Coast Conference coaches preseason poll – extended their winning streak while handing the ‘Niners their first loss at home.

“We struggled with rebounding, and we weren’t able to put the ball in the basket,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “The effort was there, the heart was there, but we just didn’t finish possessions.”

San Diego out-shot and out-rebounded LBSU to the point that the Toreros doubled the 49ers in both departments. USD was 31-for-56 (55.4%) on the night compared to LBSU’s 16-for-59 (27.1%) shooting. The rebound department was a similar story with the ‘Niners garnering a woeful 22 boards to the Toreros’ 49 rebounds.

Scoring buckets was like pulling teeth for The Beach and picking daisies for the Toreros, as nobody in black and gold shot 50 percent while six of eight players on the opposition shot 50 percent or more.

Part of the problem could be pointed at the injury/illness bug that saw Lauren Spargo in street clothes and forced Alex Sanchez to sit out the entire second half.

But despite those glaring issues, San Diego didn’t close the door on the 49ers until late, thanks in large part to many forced and unforced turnovers by USD. The Torero starting backcourt was sloppy at times, combining for 16 turnovers with guards Amy Kame and Alysse Barlow accounting for eight apiece.

Kame made up for the turnovers with a team-high 16 points on an efficient 8-for-15 shooting performance that included eight rebounds and a game-high six assists. By comparison, LBSU was only able to manage seven assists as a team.

The door finally closed on the ‘Niners when they failed to box out their opponent at the 7:34 mark when the 49ers were making their final run. An Ella Clark jumper would have cut the game to single digits, but soon after that, the Toreros strung together a 10-3 run to close out the game.

“It’s tough to win games shooting in the twenties and giving up as many rebounds as we did,” Wynn said.

The lone bright spot for the 49ers was freshman Raven Benton, who came off the bench and scored a game-high 18 points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field and 9-for-12 shooting on free throws. After her performance in the ASU Classic last week earned her Big West Player of the Week honors, the freshman guard became the team’s leading scorer and is now averaging 13.6 points per game.

While Kame came in and showed off her scoring ability at times, other players stepped up for USD when the same couldn’t be said for LBSU.

Katelyn McDaniel was a dominating presence for the Toreros down low, grabbing 18 rebounds on the night. She was also one of four San Diego players to score in double figures with 11. Brooke Jelniker added 14 points on nine shots for the Toreros and also hauled in six boards.

The 49ers can’t forget about this one quick enough and look to bounce back with a win on Tuesday night against Miami of Ohio. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.



British Baller

If it wasn’t for the welcoming family atmosphere, Ella Clark wouldn’t be a 49er.

The 49ers’ junior forward made a decision early on in her life that few people are forced to make: she uprooted her life in London for a chance to play collegiate basketball here in the states.

But given her unique style of play and exposure to a different type of basketball in London, the 6-foot-3 Clark plays a game that is completely different than that of most 6-foot-3 players native to the United States.

Ella Clark’s overseas training has helped her become a star forward at LBSU.

“In America, if you’re 6-3, you’re told never to dribble, and you’re pretty much told to play with your back to the basket,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “But in Europe, the bigger players play like the guards. All the fundamentals of ball handling and shooting are taught at an early age for the taller players as well.”


Ella Clark traded in the fog and pebbly beaches of London for the sunny sandy beaches of Long Beach.


After a rough start to her junior year, the co-captain has improved her level of play, looking more like the Ella Clark coach Wynn saw last year. Since opening the season with just three points and one rebound against California, Clark has come back and averaged 7.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. She has also registered a team-high 12 blocks.

Clark’s thin, wiry frame allows her to play a level of defense that’s second to no one on her team. Clark is the tallest starter, and given her family history, it’s no surprise that she’s got the type of build that she does.

While Clark yields an impressive 6-foot-8 wingspan, her mother has her beat with a wingspan of 6 feet 10 inches.

However, the helpful basketball genes don’t come from just one side of Clark’s family, as she comes from a popular basketball family in London. Her father Mark also played basketball and is currently the head coach of the Great Britain senior women’s national team that Clark was added to earlier this year.

Clark’s older brother Dan made similar use of his top-of-the-shelf genes, moving out of the house at age 14 to play basketball in Spain. He eventually joined the Brits on the court and became an Olympian in 2012. Clark said she and her brother spent a substantial amount of time taking jumpers in the driveway, with her father coaching them.

“Growing up, we had a hoop in the driveway,” Clark said. “Always being around [the game] made a big difference because I got to hang around players with so much experience.”

Like her brother, Clark was given the tough choice of deciding where her basketball career would take her next. Unlike her brother, Clark made the decision to uproot herself and travel to the other side of the globe, choosing Long Beach State over east coast schools like St. Joseph’s, Drexel and Maine.

Wynn said she wouldn’t have known about Clark if it weren’t for a former club basketball coach that Wynn knew from her high school days. Wynn talked to the coach, and after some more steps and calls, she eventually talked to Clark on the phone.

“We reached Ella [Clark’s] father and talked to Ella [Clark] on the phone,” Wynn said. “We saw a lot of video of her and brought her out on a visit.”

Despite the visit and positive vibes from said visit, Wynn said she and her staff were worried about location being a problem for Clark.

“It’s a lot easier for those European kids to go to the east coast because it’s a six-hour flight or an eight-hour flight versus two flights that are 11 or 12 hours,” Wynn said.

Clark admitted that at times, the separation between her and her family is tough.

“There are times when I wished I was closer so my parents could come out more often for those long weekends,” Clark said.

But teammate Alex Sanchez has been a key part of the welcoming family atmosphere that has kept Clark in 49ers black and gold.

Two weeks ago when everyone was sharing their Thanksgiving meal with friends and family, Sanchez and her family shared their meal with Clark.

“With her being outside her country, I kind of took her under my wing,” Sanchez said. “Whenever we have family events and she’s not doing anything, I always include her.”

For Clark, it’s that sense of family that allowed her to get through the lonelier nights.

“You feel like a part of her family as well,” Clark said. “It’s nice being so far away [from my family] and actually having an extended family.”

Clark is looking forward to returning the favor next summer when the 49ers are planning and fundraising a trip to London as a scheduled foreign tour in August.

“Because I came here not knowing anything, I’ve always had to have someone around me to do things,” she said. “Back there, I can be that person for them.” 

Long Beach State beats Harvard, loses in finals of ASU Classic

The 49ers were unable to keep the winning streak alive at the ASU Classic.

The Long Beach State women’s basketball team fell to Arizona State in overtime Sunday, one day after they rallied back from a 23-point deficit on Saturday against Harvard. The loss breaks the win streak that earned the 49ers their best start since 1991.

Amid the recent success to start the season, LBSU has been going into halftime with the lead for the majority of their games. But in the first game of the tournament against Harvard, the ‘Niners were given the new job of earning a come-from-behind win.

With the unexpected absence of LBSU’s leading scorer Lauren Spargo and Harvard’s leading scorer Christine Clark, both teams needed someone to step up and fill the void.

LBSU falls to ASU in OT


The ‘Niners struggled in the second half, falling behind by 23 points at the 16:15 mark. But the team made great use of its final 16 minutes and controlled the lead after a 27-5 run. LBSU went up 64-63 with just more than three minutes left in regulation.

Junior forward Ella Clark gave The Beach its first lead of the game, while her next trey was just enough to keep the 49ers on top for the rest of the game. The 49ers’ run was sparked by tough defensive play that resulted in 11 steals during that rally and a season-best 18 steals in the game.

The next day, LBSU was unable to surmount a much smaller halftime lead by tournament host ASU thanks in large part to a six-minute stretch in the second half where the 49ers failed to put any points on the board. A similar stretch in overtime allowed the Sun Devils to score seven unanswered points. That’s when ASU put the game away.

Although the 49ers were unable to win the game in overtime, The Beach made up for their six-minute drought with a 9-2 run late that brought the game to a 55-55 tie. After ASU attempted a 3-pointer to break the tie with 1:44 left in the game, junior guard Alex Sanchez broke the tie herself, scoring her 20th and 21st point on an afternoon in which she had a career-high 24 points.

The Sun Devils quickly answered back with a layup from Sophie Brunner. With 37 seconds left in the game, junior guard Hallie Meneses turned the ball over, leading to an intentional foul on ASU’s Brunner. After netting both free throws, the 49ers trailed by two with 10 seconds left on the clock.

Clark took her first shot at the tie with four seconds left but failed to convert. The team grabbed the offensive rebound, though, and proceeded to sink the basket that sent the game into overtime.

However, The Beach was unable to provide the consistent offense late and the Sun Devils jumped to an early seven-point lead. The 49ers were unable to make a viable run in the overtime, and ASU handed LBSU its first loss since Nov. 15.

Freshman forward Raven Benton was a key contributor in the weekend tournament, averaging 18.5 points per game during Spargo’s absence. Meneses had a tournament-high eight steals in the ASU Classic, but her nine turnovers against the Sun Devils made the game closer than it could have been. Poor rebounding also accounted for the loss to ASU, as the Sun Devils out-rebounded the 49ers, 46-31.

LBSU returns to the Walter Pyramid this Friday, hosting San Diego at 7 p.m. The 49ers will be looking to extend their win streak at home to four games.