In a tale of two halves, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team fell to UC Davis in its Big West home-opener at the Walter Pyramid 85-82.
Despite shooting more efficiently for the game and winning the second half in virtually every stat imaginable, the Beach’s (6-13, 1-2 Big West) tough first half was too much to overcome. Two different Long Beach players picked up technicals to go with two personal fouls as the team turned the ball over 12 times.
Meanwhile, the Aggies (7-11, 1-1 Big West) capitalized on their opportunities to hit eight threes to go with 20 points off of the Beach’s turnovers in the opening frame.
“I’m not using this as an excuse by any means because you’d hope 19 games in that I wouldn’t say this, but we looked like a team with 11 new guys today,” Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson said. “We’re still making some of the same mistakes that we made 19 games ago. We’re turning the ball over way too undisciplined and our discipline is just not where it needs to be. The two technicals in the first half really hurt. The more disciplined team won today is the bottom line.”
Sophomore guard Chance Hunter was sensational for the Beach, scoring a career-high 28 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Freshman center Joshua Morgan double-doubled with 10 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and three blocks.
With the Beach appearing frustrated and on the verge of collapse early, the Aggies’ assortment of backdoor cuts and threes off of screens had them up with their largest lead of the game of 20 with 6:05 remaining in the first half.
“I feel like we can score very well as a unit,” Hunter said. “I just think we’re young and inexperienced. When we do turn the ball over, we lose a lot of opportunities to score, and that hurts us especially with these teams who don’t turn the ball over as much as we do.”
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Beach burst out of the gates slapping the floor on defense and responded with a 10-0 run courtesy of stellar shooting from Hunter.
As Davis went cold from the field, the foul calls began swaying in the Beach’s favor as it rallied to tie the game 52-52 with 9:40 left.
From there, the Aggies’ jump shooting and layups returned as the Beach went back down by 10 with 44 seconds left. With a pair of free throws and back-to-back Hunter threes, however, Long Beach somehow found itself down by just one possession but didn’t have enough time to get a final look.
“We have to go 40 minutes doing what we say, dog work,” Morgan said. “Everyone playing defense, everyone crashing the glass. It’s good when we can do a [9-1 run] at the end, but if we’re up from the start to the finish, we don’t have to do that.”
Long Beach State continues its homestand against CSU Fullerton Saturday, Jan. 18, at 4:30 p.m at the Walter Pyramid.