For the second consecutive year, Long Beach State men’s basketball opened its season with a valiant effort and a disappointing defeat at UCLA. The Bruins extended a four-point halftime lead to win a close game at Pauley Pavilion last season, and they came back late on Wednesday night to beat the Beach 69-65.
A handful of LBSU newcomers were impressive in their debuts as sophomore Chance Hunter scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half to help build a 33-27 halftime lead. Fellow transfer Michael Carter III had a game-high 20 points, and freshman Josh Morgan finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Beach led 56-50 with 5:44 remaining, but had to protect the lead with foul trouble, and that’s when UCLA mounted a comeback that tied that game 58-58. After a timeout, the Bruins went on a 7-1 run in the final minutes to secure the victory.
“Individually I was pleased but I was disappointed for them as a group,” LBSU Coach Dan Monson said. “They did a lot of things to win that game, but in the gut of it up six or eight points, teams who have been in those situations know you can’t let it come down to the last minute or two. You have to stretch those out. Our guys aren’t seasoned enough as a group to get it done. I feel like we kind of let it slip away.”
LBSU shot 46% from the field, 47% (11-27) from 3-point range but only 50% (8-16) from the free throw line. The active Beach defense held UCLA to 39% shooting from the field.
“As a team, we played really well, but we kind of relaxed in the second half and they punched us in the mouth,” LBSU guard Drew Cobb said. “The last two minutes, they really showed more poise than we did.”
LBSU will be at Walter Pyramid on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for Homecoming against San Diego.
“I think San Diego is a good team and if we get in this opportunity again, up six or eight at home, hopefully we’ll step on somebody’s neck a little bit better than we did today because we think we had them,” Monson said.