Jan. 9, 2014
Long Beach, Calif. - An unconventional starting five gave Long Beach State an early lift, but the 49ers were unable to carry the momentum to the finish in a 46-44 loss against UC Irvine to start Big West play. Freshman Travis Hammonds led the 49ers with 12 points on a tough shooting day for both teams.
Owing to the results of practice during the week, Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson elected for five new starters: Anson Moye, Javion Watson, McKay LaSalle, Travis Hammonds, and Christian Griggs-Williams. The five responded with a quick start, drawing charges and building a 9-7 lead over the first seven minutes of the contest.
Sending in a second platoon allowed Long Beach State (4-11, 0-1 Big West) to maintain their defensive intensity, but were matched by UC Irvine (10-7, 1-0 Big West) in an offensive drought that led to a 15-15 tie with 6:42 left to play in the first half.
The 49ers would hold on to a one-point edge going into the half at 24-23, but after an early Mike Caffey free throw, UC Irvine scored the next 13 points to open up a 38-27 lead with 13:23 remaining in a dismal offensive stretch for Long Beach State.
The Anteater lead would reach as high as 12, and UC Irvine still led by double-digits through the six-minute mark at 43-33. A Tyler Lamb three-pointer gave the 49ers their first field goal in six minutes however with 5:56 to play, and Long Beach State mounted a rally behind one final defensive push. Holding UC Irvine off of the board for seven minutes, the 49ers pulled to within one on a Hammonds jumper at 43-42 with 2:44 remaining, but the Anteaters found Mamadou Ndaiye inside to move back out in front by three points. Hammonds picked up one final basket, but a fast break attempt by Mike Caffey missed wide with 15 seconds to play, and a final heave from Hammonds to try and win the game was waved off at the buzzer.
Both teams ended the game shooting under 40%; the 49ers finished at a 31.5 percent rate, while holding UC Irvine to 34.0 percent.
The loss snapped Long Beach State's 26-game home Big West winning streak, dating back to 2011. Long Beach State returns to action Saturday, hosting UC Davis at 4 p.m. in the Walter Pyramid.
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