Despite shooting zero-for-nine to end the fourth quarter, the Long Beach State women’s basketball team held on to beat Fullerton 52-49 Wednesday at the Walter Pyramid.
On the final possession of the game, Long Beach (12-16, 7-8 Big West) senior forward Aaryon Green swarmed Fullerton (16-12, 8-7 Big West) redshirt junior guard Taylor Turney, blocking her last ditch three-point attempt with her outstretched fingers to snap the Beach’s four-game losing streak.
“Our defense is our identity,” Long Beach head coach Jeff Cammon said. “This team defends. We went man [defense] tonight and we don’t normally go man. We did different things and [the team] rose to the occasion.”
The Beach forced the Titans to turn the ball 15 times, proving why they are ranked first in conference in turnover margin
Fullerton held the lead for just under four minutes in the first quarter. The Beach never allowed them to regain control.
A hot start offensively by sophomore guard Justina King sparked the Beach early, finishing the night with 16 points and four assists.
Cammon had high praise for King, as she once again played all 40 minutes in the victory over Fullerton.
“Justina is a true point guard,” Cammon said. “She’s naturally able to make people better, but she’s had to be more of a scorer this year.”
After scoring 21 points in the first quarter, the Beach sputtered offensively, only scoring nine points going into halftime with a 30-25 lead.
The Titans slowly chipped away at the lead until under three minutes left in the game, Turney scored five straight points to cut the lead to 49-47. Redshirt sophomore guard Ma’Qhi Berry quickly responded, canning three free throws of her own to increase the Long Beach lead to five and put the nail in the coffin.
Senior forward Cydnee Kinslow earned Player of the Game dominating the glass, leading both teams with 14 rebounds on the night. She added 10 points on 50% shooting to her performance.
“I think rebounding is huge in these games,” Kinslow said. “I try to help the team out in any way that I can. Sometimes I don’t score a lot, so I try to help out in other ways that aren’t the prettiest.”
With the final regular season game of the season this Saturday, King is confident her team will be ready to play top seeded UC Davis.
“We needed this to get back to who we are,” King said. “Play defense the way we normally play and just find ourselves again. I think Davis has a good one coming for them on Saturday.”
Saturday is senior night for Long Beach, as they will honor Kinslow and Green before the game as the Beach looks towards the postseason.
“We’re trying to go out with a bang,” Kinslow said. “We’re going to win the Big West Tournament and I’m not going to settle for anything less.”
Long Beach State will finish off the regular season at home at the Walter Pyramid against UC Davis Saturday at 4 p.m.