The Long Beach State women’s basketball team will face off against Hawaii in Honolulu Thursday night before hosting Cal State Fullerton in nationally televised game Saturday night.
The 49ers (17-2, 4-1) will travel to the Hawaii (11-7, 3-2) with a narrow, first-place lead in the Big West Conference and a small chip on their shoulders after having their 15-game winning streak snapped last Saturday against Cal State Northridge.
“We have to get better,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “We need to get better at offensive rebounding, moving the ball and getting better at getting stops. We also need to come out in the second half more focused than we did against CSUN.”
The Beach will need to do something resembling its first half performance against CSUN if it wants to stay atop the conference. Sophomore point guard Anna Kim said the team’s offensive execution in that game was right where it needed to be and is something they will need to duplicate in Honolulu.
“In the first half we moved the ball well and everybody got a wide-open shot,” Kim said. “Of course, it’s a lot tougher to make a shot with a hand in your face, even if you’re a good player.”
This will be the 30th consecutive year LBSU and Hawaii have met head-to-head. Wynn said she expects her team to be tougher in Hawaii in order to match their physicality. She said the theme for the weekend is toughness.
“They hit you on every cut,” Wynn said. “They bump you. They’re tough-minded kids. They defend really well, and they have quite a bit of talent on the offensive side of the ball.”
That offensive talent includes top scorers Shawna-Lei Kuehu and Ashleigh Karaitiana. The senior guards are averaging 12.3 and 10.7 points per game, respectively. Hawaii is the second best scoring offense in the Big West.
The 49ers will have a quick turnaround as they host CSUF (9-9, 3-2) Saturday night at the Pyramid. Senior guard Chante Miles, who is the second leading scorer in the conference, plays nearly the entire game at over 38 minutes per game.
Wynn said she is looking forward to a great environment Saturday night.
She said the fans stay for the nationally televised game following the men’s basketball game against Hawaii.
“I don’t expect any game to be a blowout by any stretch of the imagination,” Wynn said. “It’s going to come down to the wire. The for this weekend and those teams in particular is being mentally and physically tough for 48 minutes each game.”
Two days after the 49ers play against Hawaii, they will return home to play against local Big West foe, Cal State Fullerton (9-9, 3-2) Saturday night at the Walter Pyramid.