Long Beach State (18-6, 11-5) played its final home game of the season on Saturday evening and couldn’t keep up with visiting UC Irvine (17-10, 12-4) in a battle of two of the Big West’s top three teams. The Anteaters used a 21-0 run across the second and third quarters to run away with a 70-47 win at Walter Pyramid.
The loss drops the Beach out of the race for the Big West regular season title with just two games remaining before the Big West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, March 8-12.
“Unfortunately, tonight, we didn’t have it,” said LBSU head coach Jeff Cammon. “And our job is to respond after tonight. It was Senior Night and we wanted to celebrate our seniors and what they’ve given to this program and how they’ve helped us build it up to this point, but obviously we’re disappointed that we didn’t win tonight.”
The Beach were led by 11 points from freshman guard Patricia Chung, who was the only LBSU player in double figures. The 11 points is a new season high for Chung, who also matched her season high with 14 minutes off the bench.
“I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team, whatever coach wants me to do,” said Chung, following her best game of the season. “He wants me out there to just play, don’t overthink the game. And I think my teammates do a good job of helping me keep my energy in the game. If I mess up, they’ll pick me up and they’ll hype me up, so I think that helps a lot.”
The Beach got out to a solid start, locking UCI down in the first quarter to take a 10-6 lead after the opening 10 minutes, but it was all Anteaters after that.
The teams were tied 20-all after Lauren Green’s layup for LBSU with 3:41 left in the second quarter, and that’s when things got away from the Beach. UCI closed the half on a 14-0 run, making their last six shots of the half to hold a 34-20 lead at intermission. The Anteaters scored 28 points in that second quarter, which is the second-most points allowed by the Beach in any quarter this season.
UCI’s run carried over to the second half as the Anteaters scored the first seven points of the third quarter to lead 41-20.
Long Beach State finally ended the scoring drought after 8:19 of game time, and went more than nine minutes between field goals in the middle portion of the game.
The Beach forced 24 UCI turnovers, with senior guard Justina King recording five of Long Beach’s 15 steals for the game, but LBSU also gave the ball away 18 times. That led to the visitors holding a 21-19 edge in points off turnovers, which is traditionally a key metric for the Beach.
The Anteaters also dominated the glass with 17 offensive rebounds and a 49-25 edge on the boards overall. UCI was also 6/18 from three-point range while Long Beach shot just 1/12 on triples.
“When you give up 17 offensive rebounds it makes it really hard,” Cammon said. “We’ve just got to get back to everyone collectively understanding who we are and being able to execute that when we get on the floor. I don’t think we were the tougher team tonight … It’s more mental than it is physical at this point. We’ll continue to brush up on things but really we just have to execute on both ends of the floor and just stay true to who we are.”
Point guard Kayla Williams led UCI with 18 points on just 11 shots while also hauling in a team-leading eight rebounds. Former LBSU forward Naomi Hunt scored 13 in her return to Walter Pyramid.
Long Beach State has now lost three of its last five games and has just two regular season games remaining to right the ship before postseason play begins. LBSU visits UC Davis next Thursday before closing out the regular season Saturday at UC Riverside.