Celebrations began early and remained constant in the Walter Pyramid as the Long Beach State men’s basketball team honored five seniors in its last home game of the season in a 70-57 win over UC Riverside Wednesday night.
The seniors: Deishuan Booker, Temidayo Yussuf, Mason Riggins, Bryan Alberts and Breamon Richard were all in the starting lineup. Sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni stole the senior night show in the second half, hitting four three pointers on his way to 21 points. Booker remained consistent with his high scoring in Big West play, adding 21 points, four rebounds and four assists.
“I love them,” head coach Dan Monson said. “I’ve got a senior in high school that’s going to be leaving the house, I’m dreading that [the same way] I’m dreading these guys leaving. These guys are ready to go out into the world and I think they are better men than they were, I’m gonna miss them.”
Booker was taken out of the game with just over two minutes left, receiving a hug from Monson and loud cheers from the crowd. With 1:40, Alberts, Riggins and Yussuf were taken out to a standing ovation as well.
“For it to be our last home game as players at Long Beach State, it means everything to go out with a win,” Yussuf said.
Long Beach got off to a slow start in the first half, allowing Riverside to jump out to a 8-0 lead. The 49ers quickly came back after interior buckets from Riggins and Yussuf. Long Beach struggled from the free throw line, shooting 3-for-8. Booker led all scorers at the break with 11 points. Maxhuni hit a mid-range jump shot as time expired before the half, giving Long Beach a 30-25 lead.
Long Beach came out slow in the second half as well. Riverside came out of the break with a hot hand, hitting three three pointers in the first 2:45 of the half. With nine minutes remaining, the 49ers began to find a rhythm offensively that would prove to be the difference in the game.
Booker and Maxhuni traded buckets and seemingly took the life out of the Highlanders with a combined six three pointers in the half. Long Beach capitalized off of 15 Riverside turnovers, scoring 16 points as a result.
As a team, the 49ers shot 49 percent on field goals, 50 percent from three point land and had 31 bench points.
“We’re better than how we played at the beginning of league so our confidence is high right now,” Yussuf said. “We know that we can pretty much beat every team.”
Next up for Long Beach is the Big West Conference tournament beginning March 14. The time and opponent are to be determined.
Alex Manfredi is a fourth year journalism major and has worked for the Daily 49er for nearly three years. He started as a sports writer, then Assistant Social Media Editor and is now Assistant Sports Editor after returning from studying abroad in the Spring 2018 semester. He has covered Long Beach city council meetings, men’s and women’s water polo and the men’s basketball beat at LBSU. After growing up and attending high school in Northern California, he came to Long Beach straight out of high school and has aspirations to earn his master’s degree in Sports Management and later work for a professional sports team. Alex is a Sacramento Kings fan, Oakland Athletics fan and New England Patriots fan (due to family ties, not bandwagoning).