Long Beach State (2-10) broke its four-game losing streak with a victory at home Sunday against Grand Canyon University (2-7) 57-50.
The win came behind a strong defensive performance by the 49ers, who forced 24 turnovers and held the Lopes to 50 points — a season low in points allowed. The 49ers’ offensive productivity came from the bench, which scored 43 points and was led by sophomore forward Naomi Hunt, who scored 20 points, one point short of her season high.
Head coach Jeff Cammon opted to open with a taller starting lineup against GCU with a more defensive stance in an effort to not give up the large runs that have plagued the team throughout the season.
“I feel like setting the tone early defensively on the boards is really key for this team,” Cammon said. “We’re not always going to be able to score the ball and we have to learn how to get stops and finish off good defensive position with rebounds.”
The defense was lead by freshman guard Kianna Hamilton-Fisher, who finished the game with four steals and six rebounds. The 49ers out-stole the Lopes 13-7.
Long Beach got off to a slow start, and was held to 26 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter. The 49ers’ offense heated up in the second quarter when Hunt sunk three three-pointers and put up a three-point-play in under five minutes. The team finished the waning minutes of the half on a 10-0 run, out scoring GCU 21-10.
Hunt, who had been in a slump for the past few games, attributed her night to a newfound sense of confidence on the court.
“I just have to stay confident in myself,” Hunt said. “I think the last couple of games have gotten to my head, I was thinking ‘my percentages are lower than last year’ so when I stopped thinking about that then I felt more confident about myself.”
In the second half, the 49ers’ lead was dug into as the Lopes closed within one. It was again the dominant defense and output of the bench that bailed the 49ers out. Freshman guard Jasmine Hardy added five from the bench and Hunt tacked on four, including a jumper at the buzzer.
Long Beach cruised to victory in the fourth, holding GCU to just eight points and shutting them out for the final six minutes.
Long Beach State will hit the road Saturday to play Utah State at 4 p.m.