The first game of 2020 looked a lot different for Long Beach State men’s basketball on Saturday evening at Walter Pyramid. The Beach started fast and dominated Division II opponent Cal State Los Angeles 76-60 to snap another losing streak and finish a rough nonconference season on a high note.
“I know there was a long stretch of that game where we didn’t play well but I was super excited about our effort,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “We’ve been preaching all week about how it’s a new year, starting over and getting our emotions and energy back. Especially the first 10 minutes of the game I felt our guys put a lot out there. Colin and Mike had great energy games. If they do that every night we can get a lot better.”
Senior guard Colin Slater set the tone with 18 points while sophomores Michael Carter III and Chance Hunter posted a pair of double-double performances. Carter III had 14 points, 15 rebounds and a team-high four assists. Hunter had 13 points and 11 rebounds. It was the first double-double for both transfers.
“The lovely thing about basketball is that every day and every experience is different,” Slater said. “We just need adapt and enjoy the good and bad parts and work together through it.”
The Beach (5-11) scored 17 of the first 21 points in the game while locking down defensively.
LBSU’s biggest lead was 21 points almost five minutes into the second half. However, CSULA (9-5) got a spark from Michael-Isaiah Ajiboye’s 15 points and pulled to within 12 points with 7:30 left to play. The lead stayed between 14 and 19 points for the rest of the night.
“We’re humbled from the (nonconference losses) and have leaned that we’ve got work to do,” Monson said.
The Beach had 15 assists on 25 made baskets and finished with over 50 rebounds for the first time since last January (52-40) while scoring 19 points on 15 offensive rebounds.
The Beach opens Big West Conference play at Cal State Northridge on Wednesday and at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.