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.

 

Cal Poly wins game, Sanchez gets ring

Alex Sanchez, 3, is surrounded by teammates as she watches a video before being proposed to by boyfriend Chris Helmage after Saturday’s game at the Walter Pyramid.

Alex Sanchez, 3, is surrounded by teammates as she watches a video before being proposed to by boyfriend Chris Helmage after Saturday’s game at the Walter Pyramid.

Tears were shed after Saturday’s game against Cal Poly, but it wasn’t because the 49ers lost in overtime.

Long Beach State fell to the Mustangs, 107-102, in its first 100-point game in eight years, but the mood quickly turned positive as guard Alex Sanchez accepted a marriage proposal at half court after the game.

The game itself certainly lived up to its high expectations given that the reigning Big West Champs were in town with the dynamic Cal Poly lineup that yields two of the top three scorers in the Big West: Molly Schlemer (18.6) and Ariana Elegado (17.5).

The 49ers lose to Cal Poly in overtime, but the evening ends on a positive note as guard Alex Sanchez gets engaged.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

‘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.