A nail-biting battle between two long-time rivals in front of 2,833 fans ended with the Long Beach State men’s basketball team dropping an important conference matchup.
UC Irvine (10-14, 4-4 Big West) got the best of LBSU (12-13, 6-3 Big West) 75-68 in the final minutes of the game for the second time this season.
“One good half doesn’t just win you the game,” head coach Dan Monson said.
Long Beach shot a poor 43.6 percent from the field while Irvine was able to shoot 47.5 percent. The 49ers also suffered from the free throw line shooting a dismal 53.8 percent. Senior forward Gabe Levin’s impressive second half was quickly overshadowed by the team’s lack of defensive effort in the paint and quiet night on the boards. The 49ers led for most of the night with a game-high lead of eight, but were careless in the final minutes of the match.
“All we needed was a couple of stops to finish the game strong,” Levin said.
Both teams were reckless offensively in the first half, leading to nine turnovers for Irvine, while Long Beach had four.
The 49ers got into more of a consistent flow 10 minutes into the match, but the defense was subpar in large part to Levin being on the bench with two early fouls. The team defense continuously broke down, and the Anteaters were able to claw their way back into the game with easy transition layups.
“We gave up 47 points in the second half after keeping them to 28 in the first half, our defense wasn’t there,” Monson said.
Another issue for the team was its ability to hit free throws. Junior forward Temidayo Yussuf did a good job in being aggressive on the glass, but fell short when it came to making free throws. His seven attempts were all short which was a missed opportunity for the 49ers to extend their lead.
“I’m confident in our guys,” Levin said. “It was a bad shooting night, but we’re good at bouncing back.” Levin came out into the second half of the game scorching. He quickly added 10 points, but the team’s lack of effort on defense resulted in the Anteaters fighting their way back with to a tie game with 3:46 left in the match. Long Beach would lose the lead, but remained in the game until the very end. With 30 seconds left in the match, the 49ers had two crucial turnovers that sealed the deal for the Anteaters.
“We have to finish the game much better, ” Monson said. “We didn’t sustain our defensive disruption and it cost us the game.”
Levin ended the game with 19 points and four rebounds, while junior guard Deishuan Booker added 12 points and four assists. Anteaters freshman guard had a huge night with a career high 30 points on 9-12 shooting.
Long Beach continues its homestand on Saturday at 4 p.m. where the team takes on UC Davis.