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Basketball Long Beach State

Long Beach State Women’s Basketball Falls to Hot-Shooting UC Davis in Regular Season Finale

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.

It’s been 19 years since a Big West women’s basketball team won 17 conference games in a season. Despite their 17-3 record in the Big West this season–the most wins for any team in the conference–Long Beach State (22-8, 17-3) will end up in second place after their 65-56 loss to UC Davis (16-13, 12-7) on Saturday afternoon at Walter Pyramid.

The Beach had a lot on the line on Senior Day, looking to win their 16th straight game to close out the season, and earn the program’s first outright conference title since 1989. But the visiting Aggies came to play, and shot their way to a win thanks to 12 made threes, going 7/10 from long range in the second half.

“I’m obviously disappointed, but definitely proud of these young ladies,” said Beach head coach Jeff Cammon after the game. “It’s tough, you know, you go down to the wire in the last game, it puts a lot of pressure on you. These young ladies have worked their tail off and they’ve done enough to win this conference regular season. I don’t care what anybody says, we earned it on the court, I think, and we tried to play it on the court and it just didn’t work in our favor. It happens, but no excuses. We weren’t able to get it done tonight.”

Cammon said after the game he felt his team came out “tight” in the first half, and it reflected in a slow start on offense. The Beach were just 3/12 (25%) in the first quarter, trailing 16-9 after those first 10 minutes. Junior guard Tova Sabel scored a game-high 25 points for the Aggies, going 6/11 from beyond the arc.

LBSU was able to chip away at the deficit from there, and finally started to hit a rhythm in the second half. The Beach closed the third quarter on a 10-0 run, then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take their largest lead of the night, 43-39. But that’s when UC Davis caught fire, putting up 26 points in the fourth quarter while going 8/13 (61.5%) from the floor and 5/6 (83.3%) from beyond the arc.

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One play in particular stood out to Cammon in helping the Aggies swing the momentum of the game. With the Beach up by four and less than eight minutes to go, a bad pass by the Beach led to a steal by UC Davis’ Tess Sussman, who converted a layup on the other end plus an intentional foul called against LBSU’s Ma’Qhi Berry. That led to a six-point trip for the Aggies which turned a four-point deficit into a two-point lead.

“We were in control, and that kind of broke our momentum,” said Cammon of the sequence. “And I thought from there, we made some plays, but in a game like this, you’ve got to keep that momentum as long as you can, and I thought, we just had some breakdowns later on, allowing (Sabel) to have open looks. But I thought that momentum swing really was the turning point in the game in that fourth quarter.”

The Aggies led by as many as 10 in the fourth quarter, scoring more points (26) in that 10-minute stretch than they scored in the previous two quarters (23) combined.

Senior Tori Harris led the Beach with 13 points, and was one of four Beach players in double-figures. Berry, Courtney Murphy, and Kianna Hamilton-Fisher each had 10 for the hosts. LBSU was unable to dominate the turnover battle in this game, holding just a 17-15 advantage in that category while actually losing in points off turnovers, 21-19.

LBSU will now look to regroup for the upcoming Big West Tournament, where they will enter as a No. 2 seed despite having more victories on the ledger than UC Irvine. The Anteaters were awarded the conference title thanks to a pair of games ruled as a “no contest” due to injuries within their program. UCI ended the year with a 16-2 conference record, and split their two meetings against Long Beach State this season.

Despite the loss, the Beach still put up the program’s first 15-game winning streak since 2015 and have the chance to make plenty more history. If LBSU wins the three games necessary for a Big West Tournament championship, they will achieve the program’s first 25-win season since 1990.

Long Beach State will open the 2023 Big West Tournament next Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Henderson, Nev., playing in the tournament quarterfinal.

PHOTOS: Long Beach State vs. UC Davis, Women’s Basketball
Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.