The crowd became silent as senior Martina McCowan fell to the ground clutching her knee, screaming in pain.
She skied for a rebound, came down awkwardly on her left knee, and instantly knew something was wrong. McCowan was carried off by head coach Jeff Cammon and athletic trainer Ashley St. Clair, and left to a round of applause from the crowd.
After losing its senior leader in the heat of battle, the task was too much for the Long Beach (0-4) to overcome as it lost the fight against the University of Nevada Reno 76-67.
“We’re thankful and grateful we have good doctors and trainers … They saw her right away and we’re optimistic that it’s nothing major, but for a senior, you know, just anyone, you hate to see any of our student athletes and our young ladies have to deal with that element of the game,” head coach Jeff Cammon said.
Much of the game felt like a boxing match, as fouls were relentlessly called, with 37 free throw attempts for both teams by the end of the night.
While the Wolf Pack hit 30-of-37 of their free throws, the 49ers were only able to knock down 18-of-37, resulting in 48.6 percent for the game.
“I mean, the first thing is this is probably the most we’ve been to the line all year,” Cammon said. “So when I look at this, I’m excited and happy that we got to the foul line, but now we gotta make them.”
Even with the mis-ques at the charity stripe, the 49ers knew they couldn’t let up on the gas as they kept pushing hard in transition and applying full court pressure to keep the game within reach.
After two key charge calls drawn in a row by junior guard Sydney Bordonaro, followed by an inbounds steal and easy lay up by sophomore guard Shanaijah Davison, the 49ers were back in it with 7:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. Long Beach wasn’t able to hold down the paint against a bigger Nevada team, which resulted in its fourth loss in a row.
“We committed just some boneheaded fouls, which put Naomi [Hunt] on the bench, it put [Shanaijah Davison] on the bench, you know, so you have two of your best scorers on the bench,” Cammon said.
Even with the Grand Canyon-sized difference in points scored from free throws, the 49ers still had some nice moments in the game.
“You see the fight you know, we play hard, we just have to execute. We have to be able to execute defensively, and obviously, we’ve got to convert free throws … I think we got better,” Cammon said.
Long Beach State will be hosting the annual Beach Classic Nov. 23 at the Walter Pyramid with its first game against Northern Iowa at 7 p.m.