The Long Beach State women’s basketball team began its season with a 79-70 loss Tuesday, to California Baptist University in Riverside in a game that was much closer than the final score showed.
The Lancers (1-0) showed their gameplan early, feeding the rock to do-it-all sophomore forward Caitlyn Harper and never straying away from it, finishing with 22 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. The Beach (0-1) struggled to defend the paint during stretches last season and CBU exploited that weakness.
To counter the size advantage of the Lancers in the paint, head coach Jeff Cammon deployed units often featuring three to four guards and filling the open spots with athletic wings to run on the break, becoming a collective effort from the Beach with each player helping in their own way.
Junior guard Shanaijah Davison showed why she was selected to the Big West Preseason All-Conference team, digging into her endless bag of crossovers and stepbacks en route to 13 points and four assists.
Sophomore Big West Freshman of the Year Justina King added seven assists to go with 12 points while orchestrating the offense in transition and in the post. Redshirt sophomore guard Ma’Qhi Berry also saw a good amount of run at the point guard position after dealing with injuries last season, further expanding the number of ball-handlers that can be a threat on the floor for the Beach.
Because of the gravity, Harper commanded on the court, the Beach often sent a double team to counter, leaving open shooters roaming the arc. In the first half, the rotations around the perimeter were almost flawless by the Beach, leading to 36.7% shooting by the Lancers and controlling the damage only down 31-30.
In the third quarter, the Beach came out aggressively with versatile sophomore guard Kianna Hamilton-Fisher showing off her complete skill set on both ends of the court, collecting 12 points and seven rebounds. Alleviating pressure from King and Davison, Hamilton-Fisher is showing signs of becoming the leader of the second-unit leader and meshing with the starters in whatever role needed.
In the fourth quarter, fatigue started to set in for the Beach, seeing Lancer senior guard Lexy Ram catch fire, ending the night 17 points for the night along with a few clutch buckets down the stretch.
The offensive surge from sophomore forward Jasmine Hardy, who led the team in scoring with 14 points and six rebounds wasn’t enough to keep the Lancers in check, ultimately ending in a slew of fouls before the buzzer rang.
Long Beach will be back in action at the Walter Pyramid for a Homecoming doubleheader with doors opening at 12 p.m. Tip-off for the women is at 1 p.m. against Westcliff University and the men will face USD at 3:30 p.m.
This article was updated Nov. 6 at 4:15 p.m.