At the end of yet another heated rivalry game with Cal State Fullerton in which both teams shot just 38%, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team suffered a 66-62 home loss in the second game of the Walter Pyramid’s 25th anniversary doubleheader.
Despite trailing by as much as 11 halfway into the first half thanks to a scorching Long Beach (6-14, 1-3 Big West) start, Fullerton made a 19-3 run to take control of the game.
Two-time All-Big West Honorable Mention Jackson Rowe doubled his shooting averages for the Titans (6-13, 1-3 Big West) Saturday evening, knocking down four 3-pointers to help Fullerton regain the momentum. The senior forward finished with 16 points, five rebounds and two steals before fouling out.
“It wasn’t nearly a well-played game,” head coach Dan Monson said, “but it was hard-fought. It was two teams that really needed a win and I really feel for our guys because I think they fought hard enough to win and we didn’t get it done.”
Opening up the game appearing to have remedied its offensive woes, the Beach took control thanks to a solid focus on the boards and a hot start from sophomore forward Chance Hunter. The southpaw finished with 16 points, three 3-pointers and three rebounds.
Junior guard Colin Slater performed admirably with a team-high 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Freshman center Joshua Morgan set a Long Beach State single-game record with eight blocks to go with seven rebounds and five points.
After blowing a double-digit lead heading into the halftime break, Long Beach was able to regain the lead at points, but poor offensive execution and costly turnovers cemented the victory for Fullerton down the stretch.
“I’m proud of the way our guys are fighting, but we gotta get better,” Monson said. “Our fundamental decisions are horrendous right now with 23 turnovers, and one of my assistants I think [recorded] 16 of them unforced. You give people that many chances at home and eventually it’s going to bite you.”
One of the deciding plays came with the game tied at 60 with 49 seconds left, as a flagrant foul was called on Hunter for making contact in the back of Kamga on a fastbreak layup attempt.
With the Beach moving to 4-4 at home and tied for last in the conference standings, the team will look to bounce back against the defending conference champs in UC Irvine.
“I feel like we’re trying to do the right things,” Slater said. “I don’t think anybody truly in their hearts, and me being in the locker room with the guys, they don’t feel like, ‘O.K., I have to do this by myself.’ We’re all truly just trying to do what’s best for the team. These things happen. You’re gonna make mistakes and they’re just magnified because we’re playing basketball. It’s kind of like a mirror of life, but we just gotta continue to work.”
Long Beach will finish its homestand against UC Irvine Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.