The Long Beach State men’s basketball regressed during its 73-64 loss to Cal State Northridge on Wednesday night at Walter Pyramid.
“That was just a disappointing performance,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “I think we were playing our best basketball coming into this game… I’d like to say I didn’t recognize that team, but I did. That’s who we were a month ago.”
LBSU (10-19, 5-8) had won three of its last four games, and had won 10 of its last 11 home games against CSUN. The Matadors (12-17, 7-6) used a 10-0 run with about eight minutes remaining to win going away.
“We were worried about the wrong things,” Monson said. “That falls on me because you have to be more ready to go.”
Both teams got off to slow starts, and CSUN led 13-6 at the under-12 minute timeout. The Matadors pushed their lead to double digits by scoring half of their first-half points in the paint.
The Beach got back into the game with a spark off the bench from Colin Slater and Max De Geest. They both hit 3-pointers down the stretch to cut CSUN’s halftime lead to 31-25. De Geest went 3-for-3 from behind the arc and finished with a team-high 11 points. Slater scored 10.
“As a shooter it’s always good to see the first one go in,” De Geest said. “From there my teammates trusted me and they were able to find me in my spots. I felt comfortable.”
Freshman Joshua Morgan had seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks. He is two blocks away from entering the Big West single-season top 10 list.
“At halftime the numbers were where we wanted them to be,” Monson said. “It was our pace… but these kids lose confidence in each other too much, and that was the case with a lot of our issues.”
CSUN forward Lamine Diane took over and scored 23 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. The Matadors led by as many as 16 points in the final five minutes.
LBSU opponents are scoring just 56 points per game in its five conference wins, and almost 80 points in the eight losses.
LBSU is only a game out of last place in the Big West, so missing the conference tournament for the first time is still a possibility for the Beach.
“I know some people would laugh to hear me say this but we still feel like we can win that Big West tournament,” Monson said. “We have to get in it first, but there’s nobody we can’t beat.”
LBSU beat first-place UC Irvine, and second-place UC Santa Barbara this season. The Beach visits third-place UC Davis on Saturday before facing Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton to close out the regular season.