The Long Beach State men’s basketball team won its ninth straight Homecoming game in as many seasons after defeating the University of San Diego 74-62 at the Walter Pyramid Saturday.
Most of the team was on full display for the Beach (1-1) with 10 players seeing double-digit minutes against one of their toughest home-opening opponents in years.
Sophomore guard Chance Hunter was aggressive and spearheaded the Beach’s offense once again, scoring 25 points, with 14 coming in the second half. Junior guard Colin Slater broke loose with 18 points in a team-high 35 minutes.
“I kind of just fed off the crowd’s energy today,” Hunter said. “My teammates, they found me the ball in the right spots and I feel like I can help the team increase the lead drastically. We just fed off of each other’s energy and that led to the lead.”
With both teams coming off of close losses earlier in the week, the sense of desperation to win was apparent as both teams threw away possession-after-possession before settling into the game.
Although the Beach led 37-34 after the first half, they turned the ball over 10 times while the Toreros (0-2) did so 17 times.
“Both of us had winnable games earlier in the week and didn’t get it done,” head coach Dan Monson said. “It was kind of a desperate game for both of us.”
The Beach was disruptive with its zone defense to open up the second half, ultimately racking up 10 steals and cashing in 30 points off of 29 USD turnovers.
“This is a team [that] right now, that’s how they’re going to have to win,” Monson said. “They’re going to have to create some disruption and get some points off their defense because offensively, we’re going to be a work in progress for a while.”
Despite being a newly-formed team with only three players having played in the Pyramid before, the newcomers didn’t shy away from the moment in just being themselves, highlighted by Hunter being t’d up for unsportsmanlike conduct after hyping up the crowd.
“We kind of come in with a dog mentality,” Slater said. “We’re all underdogs, and we all have chips on our shoulders, major chips, given our home situations to where we just came from our previous years.”
Long Beach will face Stanford Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at Maples Pavilion.