The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2023-24 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach State basketball for the 2023-24 season is sponsored by Nelson Farris.
The Long Beach State women’s basketball team continued the positive start to their season with a 79-57 win over Nevada on Sunday afternoon at Walter Pyramid. Sophomore Abby Shoff led the way with 18 points while junior Savannah Tucker added 14.
“Nevada is a great team… they are quick, they are disruptive, and they have a good balance. I think we came in with a lot of respect for them,” said LBSU head coach Amy Wright, who improved to 2-0 as head coach at the Beach. “We were able to get fluid in the second half… It was a good showing, and it was good to get a different style of game.”
The game started off sloppy and frantic for both teams, and Nevada capitalized on the Beach’s mistakes, taking an early six point lead in the first quarter. Long Beach would find early looks from beyond the arc, yet they could not finish. In addition, the Wolfpack defense made it difficult for LBSU to operate. Both teams were neck and neck, with Nevada leading at the end of the first, 16-14.
“Coaches said we needed to pick up, and it looked like we were playing nervous,” commented Shoff after the game. “We were rushing, dribbling too much, and not sticking to our principles [early in the game].”
“We were all over the place at first, but we were able to regroup,” explained Tucker. “I think that comes from the coaching staff trying to calm us down, and having each other’s back, which allowed us to finish [the game] and find a way.”
Despite getting looks, mental mistakes between the lines by Long Beach kept it a one possession game. Until mid-way through the second quarter, Shoff would come off the bench to start a LBSU run, with a beautiful hesitation to the basket, then she hit a three ball in back-to-back possessions.
“Coach really emphasized this week at practice positive visualization, so I really took that to heart,” explained Shoff. “Coach asked us before the game what our word [of the game] was, and my word was dominate.”
And dominate she did, posting a career high 18 points and nine rebounds. Thanks to that scoring lift, Long Beach State would go into the locker room up 30-29.
With the first half over, and a new sense of urgency, the Beach came out hot and did not look back. Shooting 56% from the field as a unit, and stifling the Wolfpack in a zone look, LBSU surged in the third quarter, finishing with a 53-48 lead. The Beach found this energy in other ways than their traditional roles, especially for Tucker.
“I think the turning point was [Tucker] started getting in [the paint] and rebounding a little more. Then she had that big block underneath in the third,” elaborated Wright on Tucker’s performance in the third quarter. “When she is 1-on-1 with someone who is 6’2” or 6’3”, and she gets a block because she was steady and disciplined. Those individual plays were what we were talking about at halftime, where if the ball is not going in, you can do other things.”
LBSU continued their defensive dominance in the fourth quarter, where they held Nevada to under 16%, making them go 3-19 in the field, 0-6 beyond the arc.
“We knew [Nevada’s] outside shooting was a little bit of a struggle, so we wanted to play three point line and in, but maintaining our aggressiveness is where we need to find that fine line,” said Wright on the Beach’s defensive performance.
Causing offensive frustration for Nevada and forcing them to press full court, the Beach would find themselves wide open and slithering past Wolfpack defenders, hitting layup after layup to boost their lead. Tucker led the fourth quarter charge with seven points with zero misses from the field.
Cheyenne Givens scored 13 points off the bench, while starter Sydney Woodley also scored 13 to go along with six rebounds and three steals.
The Beach start a month-long road trip on Wednesday, Nov. 15, where they travel east on the 91 to play California Baptist. The Beach conclude their road trip on Dec. 6, when they face off against nationally-ranked No. 13 Texas.
“I am excited, and I think we are going to hold our ground. It was good to get these two wins under our belt… the good thing about being on the road is all of our opponents are very different. It is a great challenge for us, but we are a one day at a time team.” reflected Wright.
LBSU returns to the Pyramid on Dec. 15 where they face Colorado State and then Pacific on Dec. 16 in the Beach Classic.