The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.
A slow start and slower offense doomed Long Beach State men’s basketball in their home opening loss to Montana State 70-57 on Sunday at Walter Pyramid.
“Obviously you want to play better with a good opening day crowd here to generate some momentum for your year but I think it was a great game for us to show us where we’re at and what we have to do to win this league,” LBSU coach Dan Monson said.
LBSU guard Joel Murry scored a team-high 21 points while forward Aboubacar Traore chipped in a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Transfer Marcus Tsohonis was the only other Beach player in double digits with 13 points, and no other player scored more than five points. LBSU also only had five assists.
“You’ve got to get your teammates in the flow and I’m still trying to figure out that balance with the ball in my hands more,” Murray said. “It’s the third game of the season, I just have to figure it out game by game how to balance scoring and making sure everybody else is getting their shots because I know everyone is looking at me on offense.”
Montana State (1-1) came out and made its first four 3-point attempts to take an early 10 points lead, and while the rest of the game was relatively even, the Beach was never able to erase the early deficit. RaeQuan Battle scored a game-high 24 points for the visitors.
“They came in and hit us early and we never really recovered,” Monson said of Montana State that won 27 games and made the NCAA Tournament last year. “They just kept us at arms length. That’s what really good teams do and we’re trying to become one.”
A Traore free throw cut the lead to six points at 48-42 with just over 10 minutes remaining, but Montana State also got to the free throw line and a tip dunk from Battle ended the mini run for LBSU. Montana State never trailed in the game and led by as many as 15 points.
LBSU was out rebounded 40-29 and only shot 2-for-14 from 3-point range. The Beach also only had four fast break points.
“Our offense needs to be better spaced and paced to get better shots,” Monson said. “We’ve got to get more rhythm threes. And our defense needs to create more offense on the break... We’ve got a lot of work to do to play together. We’re not getting the shots we need to offensively. We’re really breaking down and going off on our own and doing our own thing too much. That doesn’t work. We need to get that changed or the results won’t change.”
The Beach (1-2) hosts St. Katherine at 4 p.m. on Saturday.