In a tough Black Friday game for the Long Beach State women’s basketball team, the team fought to cut a 19-point deficit against the Northern Iowa Panthers in the annual Beach Classic at the Walter Pyramid.
In the last few seconds of the game, the 49ers committed two detrimental fouls, effectively sealing the match and earning the team their fifth consecutive loss 71-64.
Long Beach (0-5) struggled offensively in the first half, shooting 7-for-29 and lagging on rebounds. The team has been outrebounded every game this season.
“We have to get better, we’ve worked on it and we’ll continue to work on it,” head coach Jeff Cammon said. “We have to get tougher in some ways and understand the importance of defensive rebounds.”
The Panthers played a more aggressive game as they forced more turnovers and earned more steals and blocks. Northern Iowa moved the ball around faster than Long Beach could keep up with, resulting in a number of open three-pointers and second chance opportunities.
“I think we just have to find the ball and contain the ball and no more easy shots,” sophomore guard Shanaijah Davison said. “They got a lot of easy shots in that fourth quarter so just being disciplined and taking the three point line cause that’s where they got most of their shots.”
The 49ers rallied in the second half, playing more aggressive in the paint and going to the free throw line on consecutive plays. Davison was determined to make a comeback, driving the ball every time looking for a foul call. Although she only made 5-for-10 on free throws, the five points were crucial to the team’s comeback effort.
Sophomore forward Naomi Hunt also exhibited some momentum-changing plays as she sunk three huge three pointers and grabbed defensive rebounds to keep the 49ers in the game. After a three from Hunt with 38 seconds left, Long Beach came within one possession.
“I thought the energy of the group that went out in the middle of the third, toward the fourth, I thought they brought really good energy,” Cammon said. “We just have to be more consistent, I think the energy out there fluctuates and that’s what happens when you have a young team. Leadership is getting better, but it’s all about consistently bringing that energy.”
Their hopes were short lived however, as the 49ers fouled the Panthers twice, increasing the lead and sealing the 49ers’ chances of a comeback.
Long Beach returns 4 p.m. Saturday to face Idaho to close out the tournament.