Berkeley — The Long Beach State women’s basketball team faced off against the Cal Classic host, UC Berkeley, in the championship round, losing 68-45 Saturday.
The Golden Bears (5-2) roared off to a large lead in the beginning, confusing and harassing the Beach (2-5) all over the court, ending the first quarter with a 22-7 lead.
The Beach struggled to get shots to fall when the opportunities arose, clanking open jump shots off the back iron and forcing tough transition layups in a frenzy.
“They’re playing so hard, I felt like they’re doing so many things right,” head coach Jeff Cammon said, “but we were undisciplined in ways and didn’t execute as well as we could have, but it wasn’t because a lack of effort or lack of toughness. I think our ladies just competed and that’s all you can do, you can’t worry about the officiating.”
Cammon spent most of the night barking at the officials as loose ball fouls seemingly always went against the Beach, pushing them into the bonus early on.
“I tell the young ladies to leave the officiating to me,” Cammon said. “I try not to spend too much time, but I do feel like there’s a time when I got to fight for them, for our team, and that’s part of my job.”
Long Beach tried to counter with intense full-court pressure and ball traps in the second half, forcing 22 turnovers on the night, but the length of the Golden Bears proved too much, routinely breaking the press and flying down the court with the Beach was on its heels.
“I thought we were able to get some steals, some deflections, where we had some opportunities in transition and we didn’t capitalize,” Cammon said. “We weren’t able to score it about four or five times when we had numbers … we just have to get better and it’s part of how we want to play. When we have the opportunity we want to push it, if not we want to look for quality shots.”
Although the team only shot 34% overall, junior guard Shanaijah Davison had 13 points and three steals while sophomore guard Justina King finished the night with 13 points and two steals and was also named to the All-Tournament team.
“She’s only going to get better,” Cammon said. “I’m not surprised, she did some good stuff this weekend, but you know what, I thought every person we put on the floor really brought something to the table … Justina is a product, I think, of the team improving.”
The rest of the honorees were Cal’s Crooker and Alaysia Styles, Penn State’s Kamaria McDaniel and North Carolina Central’s Kieche White. The tournament’s Most Valuable Player award went to Cal’s Jaelyn Brown, who recently earned ESPN’s women’s basketball Player of the Week award.
With the Beach getting its feet wet against high profile teams, its record may not indicate the level the team is playing at, but the experience will prove fruitful by season’s end.
“[Cal] makes you make reads at a high level,” Cammon said, “because they’re going to take your first option away, you gotta be ready to execute your second and third. At times we weren’t able to do that tonight, but it made us better.”