LONG BEACH -- Long Beach State got a strong performance from senior forward Madison Montgomery on Saturday evening at the Pyramid, as the Beach earned a 55-51 victory over UC Riverside to improve to 15-7 overall and 6-1 in the Big West.
The Highlanders, which were held to just 6.3 percent shooting (1-for-16) from beyond the arc, drop to 10-10 on the year and 4-3 in league action.
The Beach got off to a hot start leading by as many as 14 points (36-22) in the game, but the Highlanders out-scored LBSU 19-13 in the third quarter to make it a three-point game going into the final 10 minutes of action. However, Long Beach State finished strong limiting UCR to just 20 percent (2-for-10) shooting from the field and never allowed a three-point field goal as the Beach held off the Highlanders to earn the win.
"Riverside is such a great opponent. Simone DeCoud and Rejane Verin are two of the best in the league," Long Beach State head coach Jody Wynn said. "I'm proud of our team for withstanding that third quarter disaster on our part and being able to finish off well in the fourth quarter.
"We knew that runs were going to come, but we coughed it up way too much with 26 turnovers -- a season high for us. I was really upset that we turned the ball over as much as we did, but outside of that, rebounding really saved us today."
Long Beach State out-rebounded UC Riverside 41-26 and held a 28-13 advantage on defensive boards. Additionally, LBSU tallied 13 offensive rebounds in the game and managed to score seven second chance points.
The 49ers' offense got a boost from Montgomery who tallied 14 points and was 5-for-6 from the field. In fact, Montgomery was a perfect 5-for-5 from the field until the final three seconds of the game when she missed a jumper. In addition, Montgomery also added six rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
"Our seniors really wanted this game," Wynn said. "Madi (Montgomery) played a great game. She was 5-for-6 from the field and got herself six boards with three of them being offensive which we really needed. I'm really proud of her senior maturity and the way she played on the court today."
Behind Montgomery's solid offensive performance, the Beach shot 43.9 percent (18-for-41) in the game, while holding the Highlanders to 35.2 percent (19-for-54). The usually hot three-point shooting team uncharacteristically connected on just three shots from long distance to shoot 23.1 percent (3-for-13) from beyond the arc. However, UCR was equally as cold from three-point range as the Highlanders only knocked down one trey in the game en route to shooting just 6.3 percent (1-for-16).
The Beach outscored the Highlanders 20-10 in the first quarter as the hot-shooting 49ers were 8-for-10 from the field for a sizzling 80 percent clip.
LBSU shot 41.7 percent (5-for-12) in the second quarter and took a 31-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After the first 20 minutes of action, Montgomery had tallied eight points, while Chanterria Jackson had rattled off seven as she was 3-for-4 from the field at the half.
The third quarter saw the Highlanders come out hot as they knocked down 7-of-12 shots and held the Beach to just 23.1 percent shooting (3-for-13). In the frame, the Beach turned the ball over six times and saw the Highlanders lead on steals 5-1. The usually defensively charged 49ers saw their 14-point lead disintegrate into a three-point advantage (44-41) as UCR chipped away.
Despite the third quarter setback, Long Beach State dusted itself off and saw its defense hold UC Riverside to just 20 percent shooting (2-for-10) in the frame. Additionally, the Highlanders went 0-for-5 from long distance as the Beach pushed their lead back up to nine (50-41) before earning a 55-51 victory.
Although the Beach turned the ball over a season-high 26 times, they took full advantage of the cold-shooting Highlanders in the fourth quarter and capitalized on rebounding. Long Beach State also forced 15 turnovers, which is more than what UCR usually does on the court.
"Riverside really doesn't turn the ball over much, so it's difficult for us to turn them over," Wynn explained. "But, we turned their point guard (Simone DeCoud) over six times today, so I'm really proud of that.
"We had four, five and six turnovers by some of our key ball handlers and decision-makers and that needs to be cleaned up before our next game; that and finishing a little better from the free throw line," Wynn continued. "I think we did what was necessary only making three threes in the game.
"Thirteen offensive rebounds was huge. We came up big on the O-boards and on defensive rebounding. Being able to hold them to shooting just 20 percent in the fourth quarter is a good way to finish games."
In addition to Montgomery's performance, the Beach also saw solid efforts from Jackson, Anna Kim, Jewelyn Sawyer and Cece Wilson. Kim finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Sawyer posted six points, seven boards and one assist. Wilson and Jackson each added seven points in the game.
UCR was led by Verin's 17-point effort to go along with six rebounds, three steals, two blocks and one assist. Michelle Curry added 10 points, while DeCoud posted eight.
Long Beach State has now won seven of its last eight games and will hit the road next week as the Beach takes on CSUN on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. in Northridge, before heading to UC Irvine for a Saturday, Feb. 4 matinee scheduled for 2 p.m.
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