The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.
Long Beach State overcame a slow shooting night and led wire-to-wire on Saturday evening, defeating Cal Baptist, 67-59, at Walter Pyramid.
Defense was the key for Long Beach State as they forced the Lancers into a season-high 24 turnovers, including 13 steals, giving the Beach a 22-11 advantage in points off turnovers.
“We’ve gotten so much better,” said LBSU head coach Jeff Cammon of his team’s defensive performance. “We have 10 new players, and what we do on the defensive end, it takes time to learn. We challenge our players about understanding our concepts, but we understand that it’s going to take time and they’ve adapted pretty well … We’re used to turning people over, but we haven’t done that in our first several games. Tonight you saw activity, and you saw our length being put to work.”
LBSU threw a lot of zone at Cal Baptist, which Cammon said the Lancers hadn’t been shown much this season. That led to a lot more turnovers in the half court, which allowed the Beach to overcome their slow start on offense.
Senior Malia Bambrick had a game-high 16 points, senior Tori Harris added 13 and redshirt junior Kianna Hamilton-Fisher added a dozen. LBSU won each of the first three quarters, leading 43-35 going into the fourth frame, but both offenses came alive over the final 10 minutes. Each team scored 24 points in the fourth, but CBU never got closer than a four-point deficit.
“I’m just proud of the effort tonight,” said Cammon. “I thought we did a lot of really good things, and we saw some growth. It wasn't pretty, but to find a way to win is what we wanted to do and we did. So I’m really proud of our young ladies’ effort.”
Harris had seven of her 13 points in the final period, including a few key buckets to stem the tide and keep Cal Baptists’ comeback attempts at bay. The Lancers twice pulled within four, but both times Harris provided an answer. First, she hit an elbow jumper to give Long Beach a six-point lead, then drilled a huge triple from the right wing to put Long Beach up, 48-41, with 7:17 left to play.
LBSU was just 1-for-21 from beyond the arc before that shot, and ended up making three of their last four triples to preserve the win.
CBU pulled within six points with 3:17 left to play, but a driving layup by Harris helped spark a quick 4-0 run to give the Beach some breathing room. The senior also added seven rebounds to tie for the team lead.
“With the seniors, I think that we know what we have to do in the fourth quarter,” said Harris. “And we have our defense as a crutch for the times our shots are not hitting like today.”
The Beach led by as many as 15 in the first half, when Patricia Chung’s three-point play gave the hosts a 28-13 advantage with 5:36 left in the second quarter.
The Lancers closed the half with a flurry, however, scoring 13 of the final 17 points to pull within six, 32-26, at the break. CBU made just eight field goals in the first half, with half of them coming in the final 3:40 of the second quarter.
Long Beach State heads back out on the road next Saturday, visiting Nevada for an 11 a.m. contest in Reno.