FULLERTON, Calif. – Junior guard Jessica Gertz came off the bench and poured in a career-high 18 points as she helped Long Beach State power past Cal State Fullerton, 65-48, Thursday night inside Titan Gym. The victory makes LBSU the lone team in first place in the Big West standings.
Long Beach State (14-7, 5-1 BWC) controlled the game throughout and put the contest away in the fourth quarter as the Beach outscored Cal State Fullerton (4-16, 1-6 BWC) 23-16 in the frame as they shot 47.1 percent from the field to lead the Titans by as many as 20 points before earning a 17-point victory.
“Right out the gate, I was really happy with our focus and our attention to detail,” Long Beach State head coach Jody Wynn said. “I thought Anna (Kim) pushed the tempo and then we just let up. We just stopped playing hard and we got beat in transition and got beat on offensive rebounds.”
The Beach jumped out to a 10-1 lead by 6:26 forcing the Titans to call a timeout. Following the break in action, Cal State Fullerton went on a 10-0 run to take its only lead of the game (11-10) before the 49ers regained the lead and took a 17-13 advantage into the second quarter.
LBSU led the remainder of the game and extended its lead to 12 points in the second quarter after Gertz drained back-to-back threes. The Beach went on to take a 10-point lead (33-23) into the locker room at halftime as Gertz led all scorers with nine points and four rebounds.
The third quarter was a defensively charged 10 minutes that saw both teams score just nine points. However, Long Beach State held Fullerton to just one made field goal in the frame as the remaining seven points the Titans made came from the charity stripe.
Long Beach State broke the game open in the fourth quarter as the 49ers shot 47.1 percent (8-for-17) and led by as many as 20 points (62-42). The Beach’s final 10 minutes saw Gertz knock down two more treys as she capped her career-high offensive effort at 18 points helping the bench pour in a total of 40 points.
“I’m really proud of our bench production tonight,” Wynn said. We turned them over 20 times – and that was a goal – and had 26 points off of those turnovers.
“Jess Gertz did a great job,” Wynn continued. “She got six (threes) and stepped up and knocked them down and that’s what we needed.”
In addition to 18 points, Gertz finished the game with four rebounds and five assists. She was joined in double-figures by Martina McCowan’s 10-point performance. Jewelyn Sawyer cleaned up the glass with six rebounds to go along with as many points. Anna Kim also paced the Beach with three steals, five points, three assists and one rebound.
“We were able to get some of the players some quality minutes,” Wynn explained. “Everybody played double-digit minutes and that was nice to be able to get them some experience as we head down the stretch in conference play.”
Cal State Fullerton was led by Jade Vega (12 points) and Daeja Smith (11 points). Smith finished with eight rebounds and three blocks, while Jordan Jackson dished out five assists to go along with six points and as many boards.
Long Beach State has now won six of its last seven games and will host UC Riverside on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 4 p.m., inside the Walter Pyramid.
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