In a game reminiscent of its league-opening loss, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team fell 73-64 Wednesday after an explosive second half by CSUN at the Walter Pyramid.
After remaining within six points at the half, the Matadors (11-17, 6-6 Big West) blew open their lead by as much as 16 on 50% shooting the rest of the game. Giving up 42 second half points, the Beach (10-18, 5-7 Big West) fell to 0-16 on the season when its opponents score more than 70 points.
CSUN redshirt sophomore Lamine Diane took over down the stretch, with 23 of his 28 points coming in the second half. The reigning Big West Player of the Year also added 11 rebounds, two 3-pointers, two assists and two blocks.
Junior guard Terrell Gomez also finished among CSUN’s four players in double-figures, knocking down four triples en route to 14 points, three rebounds and three assists. Freshman forward Festus Ndumanya provided a huge spark off the Matador bench, finishing with a career-high 14 points to go with three rebounds and two emphatic blocks.
“That was just a disappointing performance because with these new guys,” Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson said, “we were playing our best basketball coming into this game. I know that progress is not a straight-line trajectory. There’s hiccups, steps back to take steps forward, and unfortunately, we really took one back today. I’d like to say I didn’t recognize that team, but I did.”
Allowing 28 points in the paint along with 21 points off of 14 turnovers, Long Beach’s defensive identity faded away Wednesday night. CSUN’s win ended its two-game skid, and signaled its second win at the Walter Pyramid in the last 12 matchups.
Beginning the game on the bench for the Beach for the first time this season, junior guard Colin Slater fared well with 10 points, two threes, three assists, a steal and a block in 25 minutes.
“Naturally, you feel a little bit different getting a different view,” Slater said. “It was a good view for me. I got the chance to watch how the game looks, as opposed to just being right in the fire from the beginning. I said earlier with everyone in the locker room, I just want to win. Whatever we gotta do. If that means me coming off the bench, coming from the stands, I just want to win.”
Freshman guard Max De Geest made impactful plays off the bench as well for Long Beach, catching fire for his Big West-best 11 points, three 3-pointers and two steals in 18 minutes.
“As a shooter, it’s always good to see the first one go in,” De Geest said. “From there, my teammates just trusted me, they were able to find me in my spots and I was able to knock a few more down. I felt comfortable out there.”
The Beach’s leading scorers, sophomore guards Michael Carter III and Chance Hunter, dealt with foul trouble throughout the night, each playing less than 21 minutes to combine for 15 points on 29% shooting.
“We obviously know we’re a better team than when we played them the first game of the league,” Monson said, “but we need to improve enough to beat them. I know some people laugh to hear me say this, but we still feel like we can win that Big West tournament. We got to get in it first, but there’s nobody we can’t beat.”
Long Beach will continue Big West play on the road against UC Davis at the Pavilion on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 5 p.m.