The Long Beach State women’s basketball team will be travelling to The Pavilion at UC Davis Thursday hoping to put a halt to its three-game losing streak.
The Aggies will enter the game on a four-game winning streak and have won the last two matchups between the schools last season.
Redshirt senior forward Morgan Bertsch is the unquestioned leader for Davis (13-6, 5-1 Big West), as she leads the team in scoring with 23.8 points per game and averages almost six rebounds and two assists.
Defending bigs in the interior is a consistent problem for Long Beach (5-13, 2-3 Big West), which was exploited by CSUN’s centers getting whichever shots it wanted in the paint.
This presents a big problem, as Bertsch has explosive scoring potential, evidenced by four games of 30 or more points, including 40 points in only 22 minutes versus Sacramento State.
Consistency is another area in need of improvement for the 49ers, as the team often starts off games well but ends up digging themselves into a hole by the fourth quarter.
“We teach our young ladies to play through the whistle and no matter what happens, to play through,” said head coach Jeff Cammon. “It’s a young team, you know, they’re very hard on themselves and they do care, so when they’re out there … sometimes in the middle of competing, they’re thinking about the mistake instead of the next play.”
One area where the 49ers do excel is on perimeter defense, with relentless on-ball pressure implemented with a full court press and running shooters off of the three-point line.
Bertsch is a capable shooter, averaging over one three pointer a game at 56 percent from deep, along with 51.4 percent overall on field goals and 84.3 percent on free throws.
If the 49ers can limit fast break opportunities for the Aggies and defend the three point line, then shutting Bertsch down will be the only roadblock as no other player for the Aggies averages double digits in points.
Sophomore forward Naomi Hunt will most likely draw the job of guarding Bertsch, which could result in a shootout between the two squads.
Hunt is easily the best perimeter shooter for Long Beach, averaging almost five three-point attempts a game and knocking them down at 42 percent.
It will be a challenge, but if Hunt and sophomore lead guard Shanaijah Davison can get in the zone, and limit the scoring of Bertsch and her Aggie teammates, the 49ers have a good shot of turning around their conference record.
“From highschool to college it’s a big difference,” Cammon said. “I don’t care if they played in the preseason or not, [the] Big West conference is a different season, just like the postseason is different, so the best teacher is actually going through it and experiencing it, and they’re getting the experience now.”