When a team loses several consecutive games in a row, all hope can be lost. Players can lose confidence and the season can spiral very quickly. The Long Beach State men’s basketball team is doing everything it can to prevent that after losing its sixth game in a row to Hawaii 77-70 Thursday night in the Walter Pyramid.
“All we can do is keep working, and that’s all I’m asking,” head coach Dan Monson said. “We just didn’t have enough activity getting out to shooters.”
Last game against the Rainbow Warriors, Monson thought the 49ers (8-16, 2-6 Big West) didn’t do a good enough job controlling the paint and defending pick and roll plays. This time around, Long Beach gave up 14 three pointers, as Hawaii shot 14-for-27 on the night.
The 49ers were led by redshirt senior forward Temidayo Yussuf, who scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds in 28 minutes. Yussuf’s received the most playing time he has seen since returning from a knee injury Jan. 31. The Rainbow Warriors won with a balanced offensive attack, as senior point guard Brocke Stepteau scored 23 points and senior forward Jack Purchase added 17.
“I’m not happy with the outcome, but it’s a good thing to know I’m OK and I can still play at this level,” Yussuf said.
In the first half, Long Beach started out with an “inside-out” mentality. Throughout the first 10 minutes, the 49ers scored several baskets down low from Yussuf post-ups and paint cuts from sophomore guard Drew Cobb. Sophomore guard Jordan Roberts utilized his versatility scoring isolation jump shots and post hooks down low. Monson used more bench players than normal, giving redshirt freshman Milos Apic and freshman Demetrius Mims the experience they need to develop at the collegiate level. At the half, Hawaii led Long Beach 41-35. Sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni led with eight points.
Long Beach appeared to come out strong in the second half. The 49ers sparked a 9-0 run and took a 44-41 lead. From that point on, Long Beach was unable to keep a rhythm.
Yussuf appeared out of breath throughout most of the half, but willed his way to making baskets down low. The problem in the second half was a lack of movement by the 49ers when Yussuf had the ball in the post. Long Beach appeared stagnant on the offensive end, and couldn’t contain Hawaii’s hot three point shooting down the stretch.
“Having a losing record is not what we want, but we’re trying take strides and get better,” Yussuf said.
Next up for Long Beach is a 7 p.m. road matchup Saturday at Cal Poly.