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.

 

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.

‘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.

LBSU topped in height and score in Reno

The 49ers were unable to surmount an early lead by Nevada and went on to lose their second straight game of the season, 91-61.

In a game that started off with threes by both teams in the first 30 seconds of the game, the shot by junior guard Alex Sanchez ended up being the only points the 49ers scored in the first 5:26 of the game.

By the time junior forward Ella Clark made it five points with a mid-range jumper of her own, Nevada had already brought its lead to 10.

The Wolfpack wouldn’t slow down until the second half. A combination of turnovers and missed shots allowed Nevada to add on to its lead, and by the end of the first half, the 49ers trailed Nevada 49-21. An excessive number of fouls (25) in the first half also prevented any type of rhythm to be mustered by The Beach.

As expected, 6-foot-8 Nevada junior center Mimi Mungedi played a prominent role in the outcome of tonight’s game, offering 5 or 6 more inches than anybody else on the court at any given time.

LBSU topped in height and score in Reno

Given that type of height advantage by Nevada, the 49ers struggled to make their presence known down low and were unable to connect on its mid-range and outside shots throughout the night, shooting 28.2 percent from the field to Nevada’s 48.4 percent.

The height disadvantage certainly played into the rebound discrepancy, with Nevada having 55 boards on the night compared to LBSU’s 39. Keep in mind that junior center Devin Hudson, who was a pivotal post player for The Beach last season, continues to sit out with injury. Her return is still up in the air.

The Wolfpack finished the game with four players finishing in double figures while LBSU had just one in freshman guard Bree Throop. Fellow freshman Madison Montgomery was second on her team in scoring with nine points which were all scored in the second half.

Nevada junior forward Emily Burns recorded a double-double on the night with a game-high 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Mungedi scored 12 points and added 6 rebounds on the night while Arielle Wideman scored 15 points and Terilyn Moe added 11.

The 49ers will now travel to San Francisco for a game against the Dons on Sunday at the War Memorial Gymnasium. The game will be the last of a three-game road swing before the 49ers will finally suit up in the home gear when they host Loyola Marymount on Nov. 23.