March 1, 2014
LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team led for 34 minutes but could not stop a late rally by Cal State Fullerton as the Titans came back for the 71-55 victory Saturday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
LBSU dropped to 15-13 overall and 7-7 in Big West play, while CSF improved to 11-16 and 7-7 in conference action.
The 49ers and Titans are now tied with UC Irvine for fifth place in the league standings. Cal State Northridge clinched at least a share of the regular season championship with a win over UC Riverside, while Cal Poly picked up an overtime victory against UC Irvine to move into second place, a half-game ahead of Hawai'i who is in third.
Long Beach State struggled from the field, shooting 37.7 percent and 29.2 percent from 3-point range. It was also just 2-for-5 from the free throw line. Junior Hallie Meneses led the way with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists. Junior Alex Sanchez added 10 points, while classmate Lauren Spargo had eight. Freshman Raven Benton chipped in six points and a team-high eight rebounds.
LBSU never trailed in the first half, racing out to a 5-0 lead following a Meneses putback at the 18:44 mark. Cal State Fullerton responded with five unanswered to even the score, but the 49ers would use a 13-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Sanchez, to pull ahead, 20-10, with 7:25 remaining.
The Titans then cut the deficit to three before Sanchez sparked an 8-1 spurt with five points over a nearly two-minute span to put Long Beach State back on top by 10 (28-18) with 3:11 to play. The home team stayed out front and held a 32-25 advantage at the break.
Spargo and Meneses hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second period to give LBSU its largest lead of the night at 38-27 at the 17:33 mark. CSF then scored eight-straight points to make it 38-35, but Spargo stopped the rally with a three and the 49ers pulled ahead by eight.
Cal State Fullerton wouldn't give up, however, as it proceeded to go on a 19-8 run to take its first lead of the night at 54-51 with 5:59 remaining. Madison Montgomery made a layup on Long Beach State's next possession, but the Titans did not relinquish their lead as they went on to outscore LBSU, 17-2, over the final 4:30 for the 71-55 victory.
CSF made nearly 50 percent of its field goal attempts in the second half and finished the night at 39.6 percent. They were just 7-of-21 from behind the arc, but connected for three key treys in their late rally.
Kathleen Iwuoha paced the Titans with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Alex Thomas finished with 18 points. Samantha Logan contributed 14 points on a 4-for-7 performance from long distance.
Long Beach State has its final two regular season games on tap for next week as it hosts Cal State Northridge on Thursday, March 6, before heading to UC Riverside on Saturday, March 8. The 49ers will hold their Senior Night ceremony honoring Jade Wilson following their contest against the Matadors.
NOTES: Long Beach State suffered just its fourth home loss of the season as it is now 11-4 when playing in the Walter Pyramid ... It was also the first time the 49ers dropped a game in which they were leading at halftime ... There were two rare situations that occurred in Saturday's game ... After the under 12-minute media timeout there was a five-minute "rain delay" due to a leak that caused a small section of the court to get wet ... With just over two minutes to go, the 49ers came out of a timeout with six players on the floor and were called for a technical foul.
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