Unforced errors and mental mistakes doomed Long Beach State men’s basketball in its 66-62 loss to visiting Cal State Fullerton on Saturday at Walter Pyramid.
“It wasn’t a well played game but it was hard fought between two teams that really needed a win,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “I feel for our guys because they fought hard enough to win we just didn’t get it done.”
With the game tied and less than a minute left to play in regulation, LBSU guard Colin Slater had the ball stolen by Fullerton’s Brandon Kamga in front of the Beach bench. Kamga broke away into the open floor, and as he went up for the go-ahead lay up, LBSU sophomore Chance Hunter shoved him in the back. The Titans were awarded two free throws and the ball because of the intentional foul. Fullerton (6-13, 1-3) took the lead on the play and held on for the victory.
“I don’t feel like I helped them enough,” Monson said. “With 50 seconds left I had a timeout and I wanted a 2-for-1 but once Colin got off of that and was over by me I should’ve called a timeout and got us a little more organized.”
Monson said he agreed with the call that Hunter’s foul was intentional.
“He made a mistake,” Monson said. “I’m not making excuses but Chance is basically a freshman. It’s unfortunate and he feels awful. But we didn’t lose the game on that play… We have 11 new guys and we’re making mistakes like we’re all new guys.”
LBSU (6-14, 1-3) looked great in the first 10 minutes of the game as it opened on a 15-5 run. Fullerton caught fire from outside and went on a 19-3 run to take a 34-32 lead into halftime.
The Beach retook the lead for most of the second half until the Titans went ahead 53-51 thanks in part to LBSU’s 23 turnovers. Monson said his coaching staff counted 16 of those as unforced errors. Fullerton scored 22 points off of LBSU turnovers.
“Our fundamental decisions are horrendous right now,” Monson said. “If you give people that many chances, eventually it’s going to bite you.”
The game stayed close for the last six minutes, and Fullerton took advantage of being in the foul shot bonus. LBSU took a 60-59 lead with a minute to play on a Michael Carter III free throw, but the Beach only scored two more points in the game.
“We looked like a team that’s struggling and is inexperienced in close games,” Monson said. “We have to get in these situations to lean from them and we made some poor choices down the stretch.”
Slater led LBSU with a game-high 19 points and three assists.
“I feel like we’re trying to do the right things,” Slater said. “After we take tough losses we’re devastated because we feel like we shouldn’t lose games. We’re figuring it out and putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Hunter scored 16 points for LBSU while Carter III chipped in 12 points while playing with foul trouble.
LBSU will host UC Irvine on Wednesday.