The Long Beach State 49ers fell apart down the stretch as they lost to Cal Poly, 70-63, Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid.
The Mustangs had four players score in double figures. Forward Kristina Santiago led their team with 17 points, including 11 in the second half. Santiago added a team-high five rebounds as well. Rachel Clancy had 16 points off the bench, shooting 2-of-3 from the 3-point line and 6-of-8 overall.
LaTorya Barbee led all scorers with 18 for the 49ers. Whitney Fields notched her second straight double-double, putting up 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds..
LBSU (8-20, 4-11 Big West Conference) dropped its second straight possible tournament-clinching game. The 49ers had 23 turnovers to the Mustangs’ 14.
“There is no excuse for the turnovers down the stretch,” LBSU head coach Mary Hegarty said. “The point guards made bad decisions.”
The 49ers had a two-minute stretch where they had seven turnovers late in the second half.
The 49ers did not have good communication down the stretch. LBSU point guards tried to force the ball into the middle, leading to many Mustang steals. Cal Poly outscored the 49ers, 27-9, off of turnovers.
LBSU guard Lauren Sims said, “A team can’t win when they give up 23 turnovers, unless they are going to score 100 points themselves.”
Sims was not able to find her shot, going 1-of-6 in the first half.
“I just need to keep shooting,” Sims said. “It’s not a fatigue thing, I have made plenty of shots. I know how to make baskets.”
The former Big West Conference Player of the Week has not been able to get back to that level of play since the 49ers’ win over Texas-Pan American on Feb. 14.
Cal Poly (19-9, 11-4 Big West) was able to put together a late run that put the game away, outscoring the 49ers 15-9 over the last five minutes.
“We didn’t have composure down the stretch,” Hegarty said.
LBSU has one more chance at securing a tournament spot with a win over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. A victory would put the 49ers into seventh place in the conference.
Santa Barbara (18-9, 13-1 Big West) will be a very tough test for the Long Beach team.
Hegarty said, “We really have our hands full, that is a very good Santa Barbara team.”
The 49ers will need to disrupt the Gauchos triangle offense to give them a chance at a win.
The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid.