The tough breaks continued to pour in for head coach Mary Hegarty and the Long Beach State women’s basketball team Saturday night.
UC Davis forward Kasey Riecks hit two free throws with 2.1 seconds left to give the visiting Aggies a narrow 55-54 win over the 49ers at the Walter Pyramid.
The win didn’t come without controversy, however, as Hegarty firmly maintained that Riecks not only traveled on her way to the basket but was not fouled on the play.
“I thought it was a travel,” Hegarty said. “I thought that we played defense, we’re running with [Riecks] with our hands up, she initiates contact — that’s not a foul. We have to be able to guard and we can’t run off the court when people dribble at us.”
Added junior guard Courtney Jacob, who defended the play, “I don’t know if she traveled, but I don’t think it was a foul.”
Hegarty said that the referees took away the game and “were not the most competent crew.”
“[The referees] missed the travel first and then a bad call — and it was a very late call — and if there is contact, I don’t think that’s enough to call with two seconds left in the game. Tough way to lose one, that’s for sure.
“I’ll look at it in film, and if [the referees are] right, I’ll give them all the credit.”
Freshman guard Adelle Walton’s desperation, 60-foot heave sailed wide to the left to end the game.
Forward Paige Mintun was one of three Aggies scorers to finish in double figures, recording a team-high 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Riecks finished with 15 and center Lauren Juric added 12 for UC Davis (6-8, 2-1 Big West Conference).
LBSU (3-12, 0-4 Big West) was led by guard Lauren Sims, who scored a game-high 19 points and drained five 3-pointers. Jacob collected 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Unable to get involved was junior Whitney Fields, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds but turned the ball over eight times. UC Davis utilized a trapping 2-1-2 defense that clogged the middle and post to limit the opportunities for Fields, who shot 4-of-6 from the floor.
“[The defense] encourages you to take a lot of 3s,” said Hegarty, whose team shot 10-of-33 from long range and finished with just six points in the paint en route to its fifth straight loss. “We took too many 3s, but it’s a little tough to get the ball in the middle because that’s where a lot of traffic is.
“We didn’t see [Fields] open at the short corner like we needed to. She knocked down the shots she got … We definitely need to see her a little sooner. She was money down there on the baseline.”
The ‘Niners led by seven points with 4:40 remaining, but the Aggies went on a 9-0 run to take a 53-51 lead with 30 seconds to play.
A free throw by Fields and two more by Brett Timmons gave LBSU a 54-53 advantage with 9.8 seconds remaining to set up the game’s final sequence.
The loss just adds to the list of setbacks this season for LBSU, which officially declared forward Sahfiya Brown and guards LaTorya Barbee and Karina Figueroa as medical redshirts before the deadline earlier in the day. The trio will maintain their current eligibility status entering next season.
“I told the team, ‘Do not hang your heads, do not get upset — get mad,'” Hegarty said.
Both teams combined for just 19 points midway through the first half and each shot under 35 percent for the half.
A 49er steal converted into a fastbreak layup for Jacob and a Melanie Lisnock 3-pointer put the ‘Niners ahead 26-20 with 1:24 remaining in the first half.
Aggies guard Genevieve Costello pulled UC Davis to within 26-25 entering the intermission. The senior banked in a running 3-pointer off the glass from the left wing as time expired. The Aggies connected on 50 percent (5-of-10) from beyond the arc in the half.
LBSU will travel to play CS Bakersfield on Tuesday at 7 p.m.