Senior forward KJ Byers sealed Thursday’s game against Pepperdine with an emphatic dunk, but Saturday saw him seal the game using defense against the Rams with a strip, leading to free throws by senior guard Deishaun Booker to end the game.
“Defensively I just locked in, I was struggling on offense so I had to focus on that side of the ball,” Byers said.
Long Beach (5-9) defeated Colorado State (5-7) 64-61 Saturday at the Walter Pyramid to secure its fifth win of the season and its second in a row.
The undersized twin tower tandem of redshirt senior center Temidayo Yussuf and senior center Mason Riggins were what made the difference in the first half of the match. The duo combined for 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the team and give Long Beach a 31-28 lead at the half.
“It was a defensive game and at one point we had 14 defensive stops,” Monson said. “These last two games have been our best defensive games, even though our rebounding was way down.”
Long Beach came out of halftime out of sync. The 49ers let the Rams get back into the game and surrendered its three-point lead. Long Beach began to pick up the pace and turned a two point deficit into a nine point lead with 10:25 left in the game. An 8-0 run gave the Rams a 54-53 lead, but a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni and a three pointer by senior guard Deishuan Booker gave the 49ers a 58-54 lead with 2:01 left.
Riggins and Yussuf finished with a combined 21 points and 17 rebounds, while Booker came off the bench and scored 14 points, dished out three assists and had three steals. Colorado State’s Nico Carvacho would not be stopped, ending the game with 23 points and 22 points. The 49ers defense was able to get the job done despite losing the rebounding battle 46-40.
Long Beach will head up north for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday game against Stanford.