Despite looking a little hungover after their battle with No. 21 UCLA on Friday night, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team finished strong on Saturday afternoon to defeat Menlo College 78-57 in the annual Homecoming exhibition in front of 3,888 fans at Walter Pyramid.
“I don’t think we handled the back-to-back games very well today,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. LBSU only trailed by four at halftime, but lost to the Bruins 91-80.
“We didn’t come out with the energy we did last night to start, and that can’t be an excuse,” he added. “(Menlo) played harder than us in the first half.”
LBSU (1-1) was led by point guard Deishuan Booker again as the senior scored a team-high 19 points thanks to going 11-for-12 at the free throw line. He also commit seven of the 23 LBSU turnovers with only one of the 14 assists.
“I don’t mind taking chances and sometimes that involves turnovers,” Booker said. “I’m still getting used to my teammates in the game. As time goes by, those will come down. It’s easy fixed with a little film and communication.”
Menlo (1-3) took a lead in the middle of the first half thanks to strong play from John Paine and his game-high 21 points. LBSU closed the half strong and led 28-25 at the break.
Monson sent three guards out to press at the start of the second half, and senior Breamon Richard and sophomore Edon Maxhuni provided the spark. LBSU went on a 13-3 run that included a nice and-1 layup form Maxhuni, who finished with 15 points. The Beach led by as many as 25 points in the second half.
“We need to practice better to be ready for these types of games so we come out ready at the start,” Maxhuni said.
LBSU outrebounded Menlo 50-34, and Monson said he wants his team to build on that momentum in the paint. Seniors Temidayo Yussuf and KJ Byers each had a team-high eight rebounds, and Yussuf also had 11 points. Jordan Griffin was the other 49er in double digits with 12 points off of the bench.
“Ultimately, for this team to reach its goals, it has to bounce back and do it three times in March in order to go to the NCAA Tournament,” Monson said. “It’s a mindset and that comes from experience. We’ll get better at it, and that’s what the preseason is for. Hopefully we’ll learn from this.”