The Long Beach State men’s basketball team got off to one of its slowest starts of the season against Southern Utah Wednesday, but managed to turn things around in the second half and walk away with a 82-71 win.
“I think that was our worst 10 minutes of the year to start the game,” head coach Dan Monson said. “It was really disappointing to play 10 minutes like that. That being said, I’m just really proud of our guys to be able to change that, this team has been really resilient.”
Redshirt senior center Temidayo Yussuf continued his dominance down low for the 49ers, scoring 19 points and hauling in 13 rebounds. Yussuf and the 49ers outrebounded Southern Utah 51-35.
“My teammates look for me all the time, I know if I’m aggressive on the glass easy opportunities will come,” Yussuf said. “I just try to do whatever to help the team win.”
After struggling to find a rhythm in a first half that saw a combined 26 fouls, senior guard Deishuan Booker found his game in the second and finished with 21 points, four assists and four rebounds.
A crucial point in the early struggle for Long Beach (3-7) came at the 10:38 mark when both teams got into a kerfuffle after a dead ball. Trailing 21-10, Booker committed a turnover and tempers flared with him and Southern Utah guard Dre Marin. This led to senior forward KJ Byers getting ejected after defending his teammate, shoving Marin out of the way.
From that point on, the 49ers played with more energy and effort on the defensive end. Booker and the rest of the team became visibly more engaged and ready to play.
To begin the second half, the 49ers went back and forth with the Thunderbirds for the first four minutes. With the game tied at 41, sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni hit a three-pointer and the 49ers never looked back. Long Beach kept a lead the rest of the way, leading to a win behind a combined 28 second half points from Booker and Maxhuni.
Long Beach was able to contain a Southern Utah offense that averages 86 points per game by holding them to 71 points. The 49ers also forced the Thunderbirds, a team who averages 10.6 turnovers per game, into 19 turnovers.
Up next, Long Beach hits the road for a 4 p.m. Saturday game against Fresno State.
VIDEO | German Rodriguez