The Long Beach State women’s basketball team played with tenacity and grit, finishing with 13 steals and contesting shots all night in a 59-53 victory over UC Santa Barbara Thursday at the Walter Pyramid.
The Beach (11-12, 6-4 Big West) trailed 36-40 entering the fourth quarter, but locked in defensively, creating turnovers to stop the Gauchos (9-14, 4-6 Big West) from extending their lead.
Head coach Jeff Cammon attributed the win to a strong defensive effort by the team saying, “The response after some tough road games, for us to come back and not play our best ball on the offensive end, but we made winning plays … they compete.”
Long Beach once again showed its knack for disrupting passing lanes, finishing +6 in the turnover column against UCSB. Long Beach is first in the Big West in turnover margin and added to it with four players notching three steals.
The Beach began to chip away at the lead as freshman guard Alexis Legan and junior guard Shanaijah Davison both hit momentum shifting shots late in the game to lift the team. Davison led the Beach with 19 points and put on a show with shifty handles in transition, spinning to her right and smoothly scooping the ball off the glass and into the hoop.
“My three ball and some of my mid-range wasn’t falling in the first half,” Davison said, “so just attacking them and I pretty much had the advantage. I think I have a lot more to my game than just shooting the mid-range, so finding an open lane and attacking to get to the basket and scoring.”
Sophomore guard Justina King finished the night with 17 points, five assists and three steals while distributing from the post and displaying crafty footwork on the offensive end.
“Overall the way we played together tonight … you have to guard everybody,” King said. “Because all of us were threats tonight, it made it easier for each and every one of us to score as a team.”
Senior forward Cyndee Kinslow made one of the biggest plays of the game, draining a mid-range baseline jumper for a 45-42 Beach lead, sparking a 9-0 run down the stretch.
“We made timely, winning plays and that’s testament to these young ladies,” Cammon said. “They get in the gym, they work on their game and prepare themselves, not only physically, but mentally.”
Now the Beach prepare for UC Riverside (7-16, 2-6 Big West) in their second matchup of the year. Cammon mentioned that this game is going to be a “dog fight,” which was the case the last time these two played, with the Beach scraping by with a 73-67 win in double-overtime.
Long Beach State will travel to SRC arena against UC Riverside Saturday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m.