The Long Beach State men’s basketball team overcame a sluggish first half and defeated Hawaii 65-50, extending its winning streak to a season-high five games on Saturday in the Walter Pyramid.
The 49ers (12-11, 6-1) played a dismal first half against the Rainbow Warriors (15-8, 3-4), looking flat and possibly still feeling the effects of their 91-85 overtime win at Cal Fullerton on Thursday night. Head coach Dan Monson said if they were tired, then they are in big trouble.
“For us to go to the NCAA tournament, we have to win three straight games in three straight days,” Monson said. “If we can’t go through an emotional overtime game, then take a day off and come back and play better than that, we’re going to be watching the NCAA Tournament from home.”
Senior forward David Samuels said Thursday’s game took a little bit out of him, and he felt that in his lower half.
“I was cramping in my legs,” Samuels said. “It feels weird when you know you don’t have your full strength in your legs. I’ll be better for next week.”
Even after being outplayed by the Rainbow Warriors in the first half, the 49ers were only down one at the break. Much of that had to do with the plays of sophomore guard Travis Hammonds and freshman guard Deontae North.
“Our bench deserves a lot of credit,” Monson said. “They came in ready to go and righted the ship for us.”
North and Hammonds finished with a combined 22 points on five of eight shooting from the floor and nine of 11 from the free throw line. North also grabbed five rebounds and had a handful of hustle plays on defense to prevent easy baskets for Hawaii.
“Good week for Travis,” Monson said. “That’s great to see. He’s been in and out of the ‘doghouse.’ He hasn’t had the year that we thought he would coming into the year. But he’s a team guy. He’s getting into shape. He’s getting into rhythm. We need another guy in rhythm.”
Monson said he thought North had a great week. North has seen his playing time dwindle as the season has gone on. Monson said North has been lower in the rotation because of the depth of the team. Still, Monson was happy that his freshman was ready when called upon.
“He’s worked his way into good minutes and produced a little bit this week,” Monson said.
Senior guard Mike Caffey had an uncharacteristically quiet game, shooting two of 11 with just five points. Monson said he limited Caffey in practice because he was so banged up after Thursday’s win. Monson said it was nice to win a game where they did not have to rely on Caffey to do everything.
“That’s what good teams do,” Monson said. “They find other ways to win. It can’t just be Caffey has to play well to win.”
The 49ers had four players score in double figures, which is exactly the type of offensive balance Samuels said the team needs.
“Coach talked about it after the game,” Samuels said. “Mike gets one game off where he doesn’t have to go for 34 [points]. Today was his one game.”
The 49ers will host UC Riverside on Thursday night in the Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m.