UC Riverside came to the Walter Pyramid and outworked the ‘Niners en route to a 64-55 victory in front of 2,873 spectators Saturday night.
The loss drops Long Beach State to 10-8. It was their first loss in Big West Conference play after starting the season 5-0.
It was Riverside’s (11-7, 3-3 Big West) first conference win on the road in almost three years. They had lost 21 straight Big West road games since beating Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 4, 2006.
A week after giving up 18 offensive rebounds to Cal State Northridge but still managing to win the game, Riverside matched that total and it was too much for LBSU to overcome.
Overall, UCR outrebounded LBSU, 47-33.
“I’m dissapointed we didn’t fight harder inside,” head coach Dan Monson said. “To get outrebounded like that two games in a row, we’re not going to win consistently doing that.
“I thought Riverside out-fought us for loose balls and seemed to want it more. It’s new for our guys to be the hunted and we didn’t handle it well.”
Forward Kyle Austin led the way for the Highlanders with 16 points. Javon Borum added 14 while Christian Soto grabbed 13 rebounds.
Riverside entered the game first in opponents points per game in the Big West, yielding just 58.1 per contest.
Long Beach, which averages 72.5 PPG, fell short of that total and shot just 33 percent from the field (20-of-60).
“We’re not a good grind it out team,” Monson said. “We are too finese and it really showed today. If we dont have jump shots going we dont have a lot inside.”
Larry Anderson was the high scorer for Long Beach with 13. T.J. Robinson put in nine while also pulling down nine rebounds.
Robinson’s lay-up with 5:01 to play cut the Riverside lead to three at 54-51, but Long Beach made only one field goal the rest of the way.
It was a struggle for the big guns from LBSU. Donovan Morris was just 3-of-16 from the field and finished with seven points.
The starters – Morris, Cornel Williams, Brian Freeman, Casper Ware and Stephan Gilling – were just 7-of-40 from the field combined for The Beach and managed only 20 points.
Monson credited Riverside for their effort on the defensive end.
“That’s how you win on the road,” he said. “You play defense and not let somebody get comfortable at home. And we never got comfortable.”
Riverside exploded out of halftime with a 10-3 run to take a 34-28 lead. Borum led the charge with two big 3-pointers.
Long Beach got as close as two in the second half but could never regain the lead.
With the loss, LBSU is now 7-2 at the Walter Pyramid this season.
Anderson took the loss in stride, especially when he considers the big picture and how a loss will help his team refocus.
“We’re thinking we’re all that or whatever,” the freshman guard said, “just because we haven’t lost a game. So we lost a game, so now we know what we have to do to finish this out.”
Long Beach led 25-24 at intermission.
It was a sluggish first half – neither team had played in a week – and it showed.
UC Riverside got on the board first with a pair of free throws at 16:27.
It took LBSU even longer.
Anderson made a 3 with 13:27 to play after LBSU missed its first 11 shots.
Anderson’s 3 finally ignited some ‘Niner offense and a 12-2 LBSU run put them in front, 12-7.
Robinson and Greg Plater each had six for Long Beach in the first half.
Austin paced the Riverside attack with seven points.
Long Beach attempted 18 3-pointers, making just four. Morris was 0-of-6 from long distance.
The Highlanders outrebounded the 49ers, 23-15. Riverside turned the ball over 11 times in the first half to just three for Long Beach.
Despite the loss, The Beach still holds a one-and-a-half game lead over three other Big West schools – UC Davis, Pacific and Northridge – which are all 4-3 in conference play.
LBSU knocked off all three of those teams before losing tonight.
Long Beach continues its homestand Thursday night when they host Cal State Fullerton (9-10, 3-4 Big West). Tip-off is at 7:05 p.m.