Although two players put up double-doubles for Long Beach State, the 49ers lost their 13th straight game 100-81 to UC Irvine behind Morgan Green’s 28 points.
Long Beach’s (2-20, 0-8 Big West) inexperience showed as the suffocating full-court pressure defense of the Anteaters (2-20, 0-8 Big West) prevented the 49ers from getting anything offensively and sometimes even across half court.
“Our guards struggled tonight,” head coach Jeff Cammon said of the defense the team faced. “It’s a different level.”
After facing the top team in the conference, the 49ers would have another challenge: UC Irvine. From the get-go, the Anteaters showed why they were the second best team in the Big West Conference as their full-court press forced nine Long Beach turnovers in the first half, which led to a 13-0 advantage in points off turnovers.
“Our guards will get better,” Cammon said. “They haven’t seen pressure at the Division-1 level.”
With the overwhelming defense that UC Irvine put on the 49ers guards in the backcourt, Long Beach countered by going inside and using its size for advantage. As a result, freshman center Emma Merriweather had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
Meanwhile, freshman guard Autumn Baumgartner paced UC Irvine with 10 points as the Anteaters led 44-30 at halftime.
The third quarter saw UC Irvine continuing the suffocating defense, forcing five Long Beach turnovers. This aggressive defense would carry over into the fourth as Long Beach started with a turnover.
Although the Anteaters were pressuring hard, the 49ers were able to go a 7-0 run. However, Green would hit consecutive 3-pointers in under two minutes to put away any Long Beach comeback.
In the end, UC Irvine’s aggressive full-court defense was just too much. Green led all scorers with 28 points and eight assists. Merriweather had 21 points and 11 rebounds while senior guard Cecily Wilson had 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Though it ended in loss, Merriweather says that she can continue this high-level play by trusting Cammon.
“Just doing the things that we go over in practice and just remembering the stuff that coach tells us really works sometimes,” she said. “You may not think it does, but ultimately, it works.”
With the loss, Cammon says there are some things the team needs to work on, prior to its game against CSUN.
“We just gotta get back to the fundamentals,” Cammon said. “Our communication has to improve and we have to get back to what we were doing earlier in the season.”
Long Beach last win was Dec. 7 against Grand Canyon.
“It’s just fundamentally, getting back to the basic things,” Cammon said.
“Communicating, keeping people in front of you, knowing when to help, when not to help, know who to help off of. It’s just basic fundamental things.”
Long Beach will start a three-game road trip that starts 7 p.m. Thursday at CSUN.