Branford Jones led Long Beach State with a career-high 19 points.
Nov. 22, 2013
San Juan, Puerto Rico - Long Beach State turned the tables on VCU's Havoc defense, making just 10 turnovers while pushing the No. 10 Rams to the limit in a 73-67 loss on Friday at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Branford Jones led all scorers with 19 points on the day.
Jones joined the 49er starting lineup for the first time to help deal with VCU's pressure defense, and the two-point guard system worked in Long Beach State's favor for much of the contest. Junior Mike Caffey played all 40 minutes to help break the press, while Jones was an extra ball-handler at shooting guard, while also playing the two like a veteran, scoring 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting on the day.
The three guards for Long Beach State, Caffey, Jones and A.J. Spencer combined for 115 minutes played and 48 points while working against the VCU press. Long Beach State's 10 turnovers were under half of the VCU average on the year, as the Rams entered the game averaging 20.25 forced turnovers per contest.
In a close, competitive first half, Long Beach State (1-5) showed they were ready to play against No. 10 VCU (4-1). A.J. Spencer scored the first basket of the game in a half that saw nine tie scores and eight lead changes. The 49ers were able to limit their errors to just three turnovers in the half, and that, combined with solid shooting (15-of-29) at 51.7 percent, helped the 49ers to hold a 36-35 lead heading into halftime.
The 49ers not only picked up where they left off in the second half; if anything they were even better. After early lead changes, a jumper by David Samuels gave Long Beach State a three point lead, and Caffey extended the lead to five points at 44-39 with 17:09 to play. Leading by four at 46-42, the 49ers extended their lead to eight after a basket from Jones with 14:36 to play after holding VCU off the board for over three minutes.
VCU answered with a 13-0 run that brought the game back into the Rams' reach at 55-50 with 9:15 to play, but the 49ers had one more counterpunch. A three from Branford Jones brought the 49ers within two at 8:09, and then another three after a stop from Spencer put The Beach on top 59-58 with 7:23 remaining in the game.
VCU answered on the next possession to halt the 49ers momentum, and took a 68-60 lead on a transition basket from Rob Brandenberg with 2:15 to play. That lead held the rest of the way.
Long Beach State will close out their 10-day road trip with the same team that started it as the 49ers will get a second crack at Kansas State in the final game of the tournament. That game will start at 8:30 a.m. PT, and will only be broadcast online on ESPN3. Fans can also listen to Rob Brender through KBEACH.org or on HD Radio at 88.1-3.
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