The Long Beach State women’s basketball team wasn’t able to contain the UC Irvine Anteaters in the paint as they were defeated, 68-62, at the Walter Pyramid on Saturday evening.
Senior Lynea Williams led the 49ers in scoring for the second game in a row with 16 points and four rebounds off the bench. Junior Whitney Fields added 14 points with the help of 8-of-8 free-throw shooting, despite a poor shooting night from the field.
Williams drove the ball inside and got good looks throughout the game; she went 8-of-12 from the field.
“My plan is to play hard when I come into the game,” she said. “There isn’t anyone in the conference that can really stop me because of my speed.”
Irvine guard Rebecca Maessen led all scorers with 24 and pulled down eight rebounds for the Anteaters. Maessen shot 50% from the field; including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Anteater center Kim Barnes, who averages 2.3 points a game, was able to score an efficient 10 points on eight shots.
LBSU (4-16, 1-7 Big West Conference) gave up 42 points in the first half to an Irvine team that has averaged 49.6 points per game this season.
“We were slow on our rotations and we were out-hustled in the first half,” junior Courtney Jacob said.
The defense began to tighten up in the paint with four minutes left in the first half, but Irvine was able to effectively kick the ball to their outside shooters.
The 49ers increased their defensive pressure in the second half and held the Anteaters to 39.1 percent after hitting 53.1 percent of their shots in the first half. The players were able to control the paint and close out on outside shooters. Jacob also said they were much better at picking up the screens in the second half.
LBSU was able to pull within four points with 48 seconds remaining in the game, but Irvine’s Keyonna Johnson hit 3-of-4 free throws to put her team back up by 7.
The 49ers had a lot of opportunities down low but were unable to capitalize down the stretch. Fields was able to get some good looks but ended up shooting 3-of-18 from the field.
Poor free-throw shooting hurt the 49ers in the end, going through a stretch where they missed four straight late in the game.
The loss was a big one for Long Beach, which is looking for a spot in the Big West Tournament that begins March 11. The top eight of the nine teams from the conference make the tournament.
Jacob was hit in the eye going up for a rebound early in the second half, but was able to return to the game after icing the injury for a few minutes. Lauren Sims, one of five players suffering with the flu, had to leave the game late in the second half.
The 49ers will look to get back on track Thursday night at UC Davis. Tip-off is scheduled at 7 p.m.