Long Beach State’s backcourt of Joel Murray and Colin Slater put on an impressive display on Monday night at Pauley Pavilion, but it wasn’t enough for the Beach to keep up with No. 2 UCLA. The Bruins (3-0) outscored the Beach (1-1) 52-34 in the second half to pull away for a 100-79 victory.
Murray scored a game-high 30 points for the Beach in just his second Division I contest, going 13/17 from the floor. Slater, meanwhile, poured in a career-high 27 points and was tremendously efficient. The senior point guard made his first nine field goal attempts, finishing 10/13 from the field and 5/6 from beyond the three-point line.
“They were, as the kids would say, cookin’,” said Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson of his backcourt duo. “They had it going, and my disappointing thing is we didn’t keep feeding them. When we got behind in the second half, everybody tried to get us back, and I’m hoping it’s just inexperience that resulted in that, but we went off on our own in the second half when we got behind.”
With the two starting guards combining for 57 of LBSU’s 79 points, a third scoring option never emerged for the Beach. The next highest scorer was Drew Cobb with five points.
Monson was pleased with his team’s effort on the glass, where the Beach actually outrebounded the Bruins, 36-30. The trouble for Long Beach was in the turnover battle, where LBSU coughed the ball up 25 times while only forcing eight turnovers by the Bruins. UCLA turned that into a 38-15 advantage in points off turnovers.
Murray accounted for nine of those turnovers, which was the only real blemish on his otherwise superb stat line.
“Joel’s trying to do a lot, and it’s only a second Division I game,” Monson said. “He’s doing a lot of good things, but obviously it’s not great when a point guard has nine turnovers and the team has 25. But there’s really just three guys we’ve got to slow down and get comfortable, and if we can clean that up I think offensively we can be hard to guard.”
The Beach certainly showed flashes of that in the first half, exemplified by a 14-0 run which helped give LBSU its largest lead, 28-23, with 7:16 left before the break. Slater had the last 12 points in that run, hitting five consecutive jumpers. As a team, Long Beach State made 13 of its last 15 shots in the first half, but still trailed 48-45 at halftime.
Long Beach State shot a ridiculous 69 percent in the first half and ended up at 58.2 percent for the night. The Beach was also 7/11 (63.6%) on three-point attempts.
UCLA was led by 25 points from Johnny Juzang, while Jules Bernard added 22. UCLA had five players in double-figures and took 78 shots compared to just 55 for the Beach.
It was a slow night for Long Beach Poly alumni and current UCLA Bruins Myles Johnson and Peyton Watson. Johnson was in the starting lineup for the second straight game but played just 17 minutes due to foul trouble. Watson meanwhile recorded eight minutes off the UCLA bench.
LBSU was without the presence of senior forward Joe Hampton, who was sitting out with a foot injury. Monson said Hampton had an awkward landing in yesterday’s practice and woke up with pain in his foot on Monday morning. He will be re-evaluated ahead of Long Beach State’s home opener against Utah Valley on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. inside Walter Pyramid.