Scoring the ball proved to be easy for both teams Saturday, as the Long Beach State men’s basketball team fell in an 85-80 loss to Eastern Michigan at the Walter Pyramid. A trio of players from both teams carried the offensive attacks between the Eagles and the Beach.
“You score 80 points at home, you should win,” head coach Dan Monson said. “We’ve just got to continue to get more disruptive defensively. We didn’t make enough strides this week to win this game.”
Senior forward Gabe Levin scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds, junior guard Bryan Alberts added 18 points and sophomore guard Jordan Griffin had 17 of his own.
The 49ers (5-8) had no problem finding themselves on offense Saturday. The team shot 47 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. The biggest problem for Long Beach was containing the Eagles’ length and athleticism. Eastern Michigan’s Elijah Minnie, James Thompson IV and Paul Jackson combined for a total of 60 points.
Throughout the first nine minutes of the game, Long Beach was tied with Eastern Michigan at 15. A dunk by Levin sparked a 9-0 run and the lead was pushed out to 24-15 after an impressive post move by sophomore LaRond Williams.
Eastern Michigan (8-2) would fight back throughout the remainder of the first half and take a 38-37 lead into halftime.
After both teams went back-and-forth to begin the first eight minutes of the second half, a posterizing dunk from Thompson created momentum for Eastern Michigan. The Eagles took a 58-53 lead, but Long Beach would respond and tie the game at 60 with eight minutes left.
A towering dunk by Thompson IV began a 10-2 run for Eastern Michigan. Long Beach was able to respond after a 3-pointer from Alberts with five minutes left, but struggled to keep momentum after turnovers and defensive lapses down the stretch.
Trailing by three points with 16 seconds left Alberts had a shot to tie the game, but the 3-point shot missed and the game was capped off by a reverse dunk by Eastern Michigan’s Tim Bond.
Despite the loss, Monson saw some positives in the game. “That was a good preseason game for us,” he said. “That’s a team that I think would be in the top three in [the Big West].”
Despite scoring 1,000 career points in his career at LMU and Long Beach, Levin remained composed and ready for the team’s next challenge.
“With the [loss] it doesn’t feel so good, but it’s humbling and I’m surprised I’ve scored that many points,” Levin said. “It’ll be cool down the road.”
Long Beach is back on the road for its next two games as it will head to No. 2 Michigan State on Thursday and Colorado State on Saturday Dec. 23.
“We have nothing to lose,” Levin said. “Might as well go in there, play as hard as we can and see what happens.”