March 6, 2014
LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team came up just short in a defensive battle against Big West-leading Cal State Northridge, 52-49, Thursday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
Both teams had nearly identical numbers as they each forced 18 turnovers, had seven steals and shot under 30 percent. One of the bigger differences came on the boards, where the Matadors won the battle, 54-43. Twenty-one of their rebounds were on the offensive glass.
Junior Hallie Meneses led the 49ers with 11 points and seven rebounds, while classmate Ella Clark finished with 10 points and four boards. Senior Jade Wilson had a strong showing in her final regular-season home game with eight points and six rebounds. Junior Alex Sanchez also chipped in nine points and four assists.
It went back-and-forth early in the first half with five lead changes and two tie scores. Long Beach State struck first and took a 6-3 advantage following a Wilson layup at the 18:15 mark. Cal State Northridge then scored four unanswered to pull ahead, 7-6. The two teams would trade points until the Matadors used an 8-2 run to go on top, 20-15, with 7:17 remaining.
LBSU (15-14, 7-8 Big West) cut the deficit to three on two occasions, but the visitors would increase their cushion to nine at the break (31-22).
Two minutes into the second period, Cinnamon Lister connected from behind the arc to give CSUN its largest lead of the night at 34-22. Long Beach State quickly responded with an 11-0 run, capped by a Raven Benton layup, to make it 34-33 at the 14:13 mark. Lister ended the rally with another three and the Matadors went back up by six before the 49ers scored seven-straight to take their first lead in 29 minutes at 47-46 with 3:47 to play. Junior Lauren Spargo hit a 3-pointer that put LBSU on top.
After trading baskets over the next two minutes, a layup by Bernadette Fong gave CSUN a 50-49 advantage with under a minute to go. Still trailing by one, the 49ers had one last chance with 11 seconds on the clock, but Breeyon Alexander came up with a big steal at the five-second mark. Long Beach State quickly fouled, but still had two to give, allowing Northridge to run the clock down to 0.9 seconds before Lister hit both ends of the one-and-one for the 52-49 victory.
Fong paced the Matadors with a game-high 12 points, while Lister had 11. Janae Sharpe added a game-high 11 rebounds.
CSUN (16-14, 12-4 Big West), who had already secured the No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament, clinched its first-ever Big West regular season championship outright with the win tonight.
Long Beach State will head to UC Riverside for its regular-season finale on Saturday, March 8. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
NOTES: Long Beach State held its Senior Night ceremony honoring Jade Wilson after tonight's game ... LBSU dropped into a tie for sixth with Cal State Fullerton in the Big West standings ... The 49ers were just the fifth team all year to hold Northridge to under 60 points ... The Matadors had been averaging 75.3 points in their last 13 games ... For the first time this season, Long Beach State suffered its third-straight loss ... It is also the first time since 2007 that CSUN has swept the regular season series.
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