Berkeley—The Long Beach State women’s basketball team won its first game of the Cal Classic at Haas Pavilion 64-56 against the Penn State Friday.
The Beach (2-4) led for all but 24 seconds of the game, winning battles for loose balls and corralling contested rebounds all night, forcing the Lady Lions (3-4) into 24 turnovers.
“I’m just proud of the girls’ effort,” head coach Jeff Cammon said. “I thought that everyone we subbed into the game … brought something to the table.”
Redshirt sophomore guard Ma’Qhi Berry led the charge with four steals on the night along with 14 points as she made her presence felt on both ends of the court early on with a beautiful turnaround mid-range jumper in transition off of a Penn State turnover.
Senior forward Cydnee Kinslow played her usual role of on-ball defensive hound, adding three steals of her own and six rebounds.
“I thought that everyone we put into the game did a great job,” Cammon said. “We executed much better than we have and we’re getting better. I thought we played with really good purpose tonight.”
With a 34-28 lead at halftime, the Lady Lions came out with newfound energy, connecting on a few big three-pointers to bring the game back within reaching distance.
It was too little too late for Penn State though, as sophomore guard Justina King put the Beach on her back, sifting through the Lady Lions’ defense with crafty ball-fakes and up-and-under moves to keep the offense afloat.
“Justina [King] is just in control, her pace is getting better and better,” Cammon said. “She has very good ball skills, she has a high IQ, … she’s starting to play more and more consistently with really good pace … She can score the ball and make others better and that’s what she’s doing.”
King finished with a game-high 16 points to add to her four assists and two steals while breaking down the Penn State defense with high pick-and-roll action on the wings.
Although Penn State got as close as 57-50 with a minute remaining, the Beach calmly sent shooters to the free-throw line, knocking down five out of eight chances to seal the deal.
“It’s starting to carry over,” Cammon said, “and to be put in that position in a real game can only make you better. To be exposed to that and get those reps in a real game … this young team, they need minutes and they need to be in these types of situations.”
The Long Beach State women’s basketball team will face UC Berkeley in the championship round of the Cal Classic Nov. 30 at 3:15 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.