After a close 75-72 loss to Oregon State Sunday at the Walter Pyramid, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team will face another Pac-12 team Wednesday as it travels for an 8 p.m. matchup at USC.
The 49ers continued their trend of competing with teams in the first half, but letting up and losing momentum down the stretch Sunday. Senior point guard Deishuan Booker, who leads the team with 16 points per game, struggled against Oregon State. Booker posted a statline of five points, five rebounds, five assists and five turnovers while shooting 0-for-8 from the field.
“I tell him all the time, he’s gotta be measured on how the team does,” head coach Dan Monson said. “If you have 30 [points] in a loss, you still lost. If you go 0-for-8 in a win, it’s a win. With point guards it’s a puzzle for them to figure out every game. I told [Booker] with their zone it was gonna be difficult for him.”
Wednesday’s game at USC poses a difficult challenge, as the Trojans are more talented than Oregon State and create matchup problems with their size. USC’s offense is led by a group of four players who average at least 13 points per game: Bennie Boatwright, Kevin Porter Jr, Nick Rakocevic and Jonah Mathews. Coming off two straight wins over Missouri State and Cal State Bakersfield, the Trojans are playing with a lot of confidence.
“I’m not planning on changing [our] lineup, we’re not worried about matchups, we’re worried about how we’re going to play,” Monson said. “We play these Pac-12 teams knowing we don’t match up well against them, we put our guys through some adversity to try to get better.”
Besides senior forwards KJ Byers and Mason Riggins, no other players on the Long Beach roster are shooting more than 42 percent on the season. As a team, the 49ers are shooting 40 percent. Out of the 351 Division I schools in the NCAA, Long Beach ranks 317th in field goal percentage.
In comparison, USC is shooting 50.4 percent as a team which is good for 23rd highest in the nation.
After Wednesday’s match up in Los Angeles, the 49ers will head south for a 7 p.m. game Saturday against the University of San Diego.