March 11, 2014
LONG BEACH - The sixth-seeded Long Beach State women's basketball team defeated No. 7 seed Cal State Fullerton, 64-60, in the first round of the Big West Tournament Tuesday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
The 49ers, who avenged last year's first-round loss to the Titans, improved to 17-14 overall and will move on to the quarterfinals where they are set to take on third-seeded Hawai'i at 6 p.m.
LBSU shot 43.1 percent from the floor and had another strong showing at the free throw line as it was 12-of-14. Long Beach State also won the battle on the boards, 39-to-29.
Junior Lauren Spargo led the offense, going 4-for-7 from behind the arc and finishing with a game-high 19 points. She also had seven rebounds, while classmate Ella Clark was one shy of a double-double as she had 15 points and nine boards. Freshman Raven Benton contributed 10 points.
Long Beach State raced out to an early 9-2 lead on a Clark jumper and stayed out front until Cal State Fullerton scored eight unanswered to take its first advantage of the night at 15-14 with 8:31 to go. It went back-and-forth over the next minute before LBSU used an 8-0 spurt, capped by a pair of Spargo 3-pointers, to pull ahead, 24-18, at the 5:21 mark.
CSF (12-18) was able to close the gap to one, but the 49ers would not relinquish the lead as they held a 31-28 cushion at the break.
Junior Hallie Meneses started the scoring in the second half with a 3-pointer and Long Beach State proceeded to go on top, 39-32, with 13:30 remaining. LBSU still led by seven at the 8:05 mark, but Cal State Fullerton continued to chip away, using a 19-9 run over the next five minutes to take a 58-55 lead with 3:07 to play.
The Titans held on to the three-point advantage until junior Alex Sanchez's putback made it 60-59. Spargo was then fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws to put the 49ers up, 62-60, with 1:39 to go.
Down by two, CSF had the ball with just under 30 seconds on the clock, but LBSU came up big on the defensive end, forcing a missed jumper with Clark corralling the rebound. She was quickly fouled and made both ends of the one-and-one to seal the 64-60 win.
Kathleen Iwuoha and Chante Miles paced Cal State Fullerton with 14 points each. Miles also had seven of the Titans' 18 steals.
Long Beach State returns to the Walter Pyramid on Wednesday, March 12, when it takes on No. 3 seed Hawai'i in a quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. (PDT).
NOTES: Long Beach State picked up its 17th win of the season, the most by a 49er team since going 18-10 in 2005-06 ... This is the fourth time in fifth-year head coach Jody Wynn's tenure that LBSU has made it to at least the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament ... Long Beach State's leading scorers, Ella Clark and Lauren Spargo, recently received All-Big West honorable mention recognition ... Over the last two games, the 49ers are 46-of-50 from the free throw line.
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