Tension could be felt throughout the Bren Events Center as officials huddled around the replay monitor, discussing whether a technical or flagrant foul should be assessed to sophomore guard Shanaijah Davison early in the fourth quarter.
Sprinting out in transition, junior forward Marina Ewodo caught an outlet pass and stormed toward the hoop, only to be met by Davison with a full head of steam, knocking her hard onto the ground in an attempt to block an easy layup.
Davison then stood over Ewodo until she received a blow herself, as sophomore guard Keilani Cooper jumped into the action pushing Davison out of the way, inciting whistles and shouts from all over the court.
Once tempers settled, Long Beach wasn’t able to regain the rhythm it had found in the second and third quarters, ultimately losing 67-50.
“I wasn’t really paying attention, I was just focusing on helping my teammate up because I saw what happened … I saw [Davison] looking over on [Ewodo] and thought that was disrespectful and I couldn’t tolerate that,” Cooper said.
Davison was able to pour in 18 points of her own, but didn’t receive any help from her partners in crime, as Naomi Hunt went 2-11, including 0-6 from behind the arc, and Justina King’s lone point was scored on a split free-throw opportunity.
“I thought the game was fought in the trenches and won in the trenches … They were way more physical than us and they out-scrapped us,” said head coach Jeff Cammon. “The physicality of the game, we weren’t able to compete.”
“Talent is one thing, but it takes more than talent to win games and to sustain that. We just need to develop on both sides of the ball … Our kids have to play more basketball,” said Cammon.
Riverside, on the other hand, was firing on all cylinders as every starter finished scoring in double figures, led by freshman forward Daphne Gnago’s 13 points and 11 rebounds.
With such a young 49er team, they can only get better, according to Cammon.
“Expectations were high for a group of young, young kids and I thought they stepped up and competed as hard as they could,” Cammon said. “If we work like we’re supposed to I think we can compete at the top of this conference no doubt.”