On the five-year anniversary of Long Beach State’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Beach returned to the very same venue on Thursday night, taking on Oregon State in the first round of the Women’s NIT. The Beach shot well to start the game, leading 26-16 after the opening quarter, but couldn’t maintain that pace in a 70-59 loss to the Beavers.
Justina King had a game-high 20 points and four assists to lead Long Beach State, but it was Kianna Hamilton-Fisher who had the most impressive offensive day. The redshirt sophomore hit her first four three-point shots to get LBSU off to a flying start, giving her 12 points in the first 5:09 of gametime. Hamilton-Fisher ended the game with 17 points, going 5/8 from beyond the arc, and also added eight rebounds and five steals.
Senior Maddi Utti scored just seven points, but had a team-high 10 rebounds and added four steals.
In many ways, Long Beach State did exactly what they wanted to do. They had 16 steals while forcing 20 Beaver turnovers, and only committed three turnovers of their own. That led to the Beach taking an additional 26 field goal attempts (75 to 49), but LBSU shot just 26.7% from the floor.
It was the three-point shot that kept Long Beach in the game. The Beach shot 10/27 (37%) from downtown but were successful on just 10/48 (20.8%) of their two-point attempts. On the flip side, Oregon State made 64.9% of its two-point tries (24/37) and shot 25% (3/12) from long range. The 10 made threes are a new WNIT program record for Long Beach State, along with Hamilton-Fisher’s five makes from downtown.
Long Beach State had its biggest lead of the night at the 1:52 mark of the opening quarter when Krystina Jeskeova’s triple put LBSU on top 26-11. But from that point on, the Beavers were able to wear down the Beach inside, holding a 40-12 edge on points in the paint.
Kennedy Brown had 15 points and 12 boards to lead the Beavers. Jelena Mitrovic added 14 (6/6 FGs) and Ellie Mack had 11.
Long Beach State ends the season at 19-9, just one win shy of the program’s first 20-win season since 2017.