The Long Beach State women’s basketball team dropped a key game Saturday night to Cal State Fullerton, 70-61, at the Walter Pyramid.
A win would have virtually guaranteed the team a spot in the postseason Big West Conference Tournament that begins March 11.
Fullerton guards Lauren Chow and Megan Richardson were very successful from beyond the arc and from the foul line. As a team, the Titans shot over 50 percent from 3-point range and 94.7 percent from the free-throw line. These were keys to their success over the 49ers.
LBSU junior guard Lauren Sims had a productive night, shooting 4-of-6 from the field for 10 points. Junior forward Whitney fields had a solid game as well, collecting 18 points along with 10 rebounds for a double-double.
“I am trying to have confidence in my teammates. It takes five players to win a game,” Fields said.
LBSU head coach Mary Hegarty added, “Fields was focused and went up strong [to the basket.] She was smart with the double teams.”
The 49ers (8-19, 4-10 Big West) were up by a point with five minutes left in the game, but were only able to score three more points in the final stretch. The Titans pulled away with a 13-3 run, hitting a number of key 3-pointers.
“There is no excuse for it … We knew how streaky Chow was, and we let her get comfortable,” Hegarty said.
The 49er defense left shooters, Chow and Richardson, open throughout the game. The rotations seemed slow and the LBSU defenders weren’t able to run out and guard the perimeter.
“At the end it was about who wanted it more,” Fields said. “They out-hustled us; our defenders had their hands down, they weren’t ready to contest shots.”
The Titans (8-19, 5-10 Big West) played streaky basketball throughout the game. The two teams had large runs that went back and forth; Fullerton was able to put together the run that counted.
“We had poor defense all night. When you play a streaky team like that you need to get stops. We were letting their shooters shoot and we had bad fouls,” Hegarty said.
With two games left in the regular season, LBSU has a one-game lead over Cal State Northridge, and 1 1/2 games over UC Irvine. The 49ers will need to win at least one of their next two games in order to remain in the tournament race. The opposition will be Cal Poly (18-9) and UC Santa Barbara (17-9), two tough schools.
The 49ers look to pull out an important win against the Cal Poly Mustangs on Thursday at the Walter Pyramid. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.