Long Beach State men’s basketball needed a get-right game and they got it on Wednesday night at Walter Pyramid with a 102-69 win over visiting Bethesda.
“I think we needed a game like this where we got some confidence and some guys a little longer leashes from the bench and play through some mistakes,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said. “I’m really pleased with our progress.”
LBSU (3-6) led by as many as 33 points in the blowout win while true freshman Aboubacar Traore pulled down 20 rebounds. He is the sixth player in program history with 20+ rebounds and the first since 1983. The 60 rebounds for the Beach are the most under Monson.
“(The coaches) have told me to just keep working and crash every time on every shot,” said Traore, who added 11 points for his first career double-double.. “You may not take every rebound but if you go every time you can get those like tonight.”
Senior guard Colin Slater scored a game-high 21 points after making five of his seven 3-point attempts, and fellow team captain Jordan Roberts scored a career-high 20 points.
“I let the ball come to me and didn’t over do anything,” Roberts said. “It’s just taking what I could get and shooting the ball when I’m open.”
Bethesda (2-10) got into the open floor and led 17-16 at the first media timeout. That caused Monson to replace all five starters at once.
“Round one of the fight they hit us right in the jaw and I didn’t think we were ready,” Monson said. “It’s a mindset game. It’s not an X and O game. (Bethesda) is going to play loose like a pickup game and I didn’t think our first group was ready for that mindset. Once the starters came back in and realized what was going on they took control of the game.”
When the starters returned they sparked an 18-6 run that put LBSU up 52-30 at halftime. Slater and fellow guards Joel Murray and Drew Cobb combined for 14 of the 21 assists. The Beach shot 48 percent from the field.
With 6’8″ forward Joe Hampton taking time away from the team, LBSU was still dominate in the paint as a unit with 19 offensive rebounds and 25 second-chance points. Bethesda only earned two trips to the free throw line.
Monson and Roberts both said after the game that it exposed things the Beach still needs to improve. LBSU turned the ball over 21 times under no pressure.
“We’ve got to get more consistent with the ball,” Monson said. “We need to be more fundamental. We’re not pass faking enough and just telegraphing things.”
“It’s all about sustaining and being consistent with everything we do, regardless if the other team goes on runs, we have to be confident that we’ll be successful in the end,” Roberts said.
LBSU visits No. 20 USC on Sunday at 2 p.m. and coverage will be provided by Pac-12 Networks.