Shaky free-throw shooting and bad ball control down the stretch sunk Long Beach State’s chances for an upset over visiting UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night in Big West Conference men’s basketball action. The Gauchos had a pair of key runs late to put LBSU away after six lead changes in the second half of a 82-71 UCSB win.
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“I’m disappointed for my guys,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “They battled but we didn’t play good enough. We made some mistakes and they made the right plays. We had a chance to seize that game, but winning teams don’t make those mistakes that give up a run.”
LBSU went on an 11-0 run to start the second half and take a 42-38 lead. The Gauchos answered with a pair of 9-0 runs that helped give UCSB the lead for over 34 minutes of the game.
“They made shots and we didn’t, really that’s what it came down to,” LBSU guard Deishuan Booker said. “We gave up too many open threes. We have to do a better job locating shooters in our zone.”
Booker scored a game-high 25 points with a team-high nine rebounds and seven assists. The senior was also indirectly involved in a fracas that broke up the post-game handshake line. UCSB assistant coaches had been yelling at Booker throughout the night, and LBSU assistant coach Myke Scholl took exception to that. He aggressively told the UCSB coaches that fact, and after some pushing and shoving between coaches and players, everyone was separated and there were no punches thrown.
“They were talking but I wasn’t paying too much attention,” Booker said. “I didn’t really see what happened until the big scuffle.”
“I think the team that loses is in the wrong,” Monson said. “They can say what they want, they won. Do I think it’s unprofessional for an adult to talk to a player? Yeah. An adult needs to be the adult in those situations. But, we lost, so we have to understand that if we want to rectify things we need to play better, and we need to win.”
UCSB (15-4, 4-1) got a team-high 24 points and 11 rebounds from Armond Davis. JaQuori McLaughlin (15), Amadou Sow (14) and Max Heidegger (10) also scored in double figures. The Gauchos were 8/20 from 3-point range.
LBSU was 19/35 (54%) from the free-throw line and committed nine turnovers in the last 15 minutes of the game. It is the third consecutive loss for the Beach. KJ Byers had 12 points and eight rebounds. Edon Maxhuni came off the bench to score 13 points.
LBSU (8-13, 2-3) visits Hawaii on Thursday.