CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Long Beach State, which earned a 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament, pushed No. 8 Oregon State, a No. 2 seed, to the brink as the two teams battled through nine ties and 13 lead changes before the Beach fell in the final seconds to the Beavers by a score of 56-55.
The Beach finished the season with a 23-11 record, while Oregon State improves to 30-4 and will take on the winner of the Creighton-Toledo game on Sunday, March 19.
"I am just so proud of each and every one of them," Long Beach State head coach Jody Wynn said. "We fought with so much heart from the opening tip to the final buzzer, and gave ourselves a chance to win at the end. I'm just really proud of their fight and their resiliency. Their attention to detail was outstanding today. Being out-matched so much by size, they didn't get fazed by it. They just battled and they fought. I'm just really proud of our entire program right now."
Senior forward Raven Benton led all scorers with 17 points, while Madison Montgomery added 15 to pace the Beach offense which shot 55.6 percent from three-point range. Junior guard Jessica Gertz was solid from long distance once again, going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the game.
Despite the strong offensive performance from Benton, Montgomery and Gertz as well as three double-figure scorers from Oregon State in Breanna Brown (12 points), Marie Gulich (10 points) and Mikayla Pivec (10 points), the story of the game was the defense.
Both teams played strong defensively as Long Beach State forced Oregon State to turn the ball over 13 times in the game and capitalized by scoring 16 points off of turnovers. The two teams also tallied six steals each. Meanwhile, Oregon State put the pressure on LBSU as the Beach committed 20 fouls in the game as the Beavers shot 72.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Montgomery got the game going with the first points of the contest as she hit a jumper at 8:14 and the Beach went from there. Long Beach State by as many as four points in the first quarter, but Oregon State stayed close and eventually turned the tables on the Beach and took a 15-10 lead before the quarter came to an end with the Beavers on top 17-15.
The Beach did a solid job putting pressure on the Beavers in the opening 10 minutes as they forced six of the Beavers' 13 total turnovers in the first quarter.
The second frame saw the Beach outscore the Beavers 15-12 as Long Beach State shot 41.7 percent (5-for-12) from the field and limited Oregon State to 31.3 shooting (5-for-16). Even more impressive, the Beach did not allow the Beavers to connect on a three-pointer as the hosts went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc during the second quarter after having made just one trey in the first.
Long Beach State played with determination and poise as the Beach saw Montgomery hit double-figures (10 points) in the opening half and the 49ers went on to take a 30-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
At halftime, the Beach not only owned a one-point advantage, but they also were firing a 54.5 three-point field goal percentage (6-for-11), while holding the Beavers to just 14.3 percent (1-for-7) from beyond the arc. Additionally, Benton (12 points) and Montgomery (10 points) had both already reached double-figures in the game.
Coming back out onto the court following the break in action, Oregon State shot 41.7 percent (6-for-14) and held Long Beach State to just 28.6 percent (4-for-14) from the field.
Following a layup by Jeweyln Sawyer for LBSU, Oregon State went on a 6-0 run as they took a 35-32 lead over LBSU with 3:58 remaining in the quarter. OSU would extend its lead to as many as six (40-34) in the frame and outscore the Beach 15-9 in the third quarter taking a 44-39 lead into the final 10 minutes of action.
Just when it was looking like the Beavers were going to pull away, the Beach stormed back and cut their lead to one (46-45) at 8:04 in the fourth. Long Beach State refused to quit and stayed on the Beavers' heels playing hard and continuing to put pressure on Oregon State throughout the game.
Each time the Beavers would jump ahead, the Beach would come back. Long Beach State held a one-point lead (55-54) with just 2:48 left to play, but Sydney Wiese sunk both free throws at 1:07 to give the Beavers their final lead of the game. Trailing by one, the Beach had possession with five seconds left on the clock and Benton sent up a jumper that just missed, but Anna Kim gave LBSU hope as she grabbed the rebound and sent up a three that also missed as the clock expired.
Despite the one-point loss, Long Beach State put its women's basketball program on the map as fierce competitors which limited the eighth-ranked team in the nation to just two made three-point field goals in the game as the Beavers shot 12.5 percent (2-for-16) from long distance. Additionally, the Beach held Wiese, a Second Team All-American, to just one field goal in the contest as she was 1-for-8 and scored just seven points over 40 minutes of action after going 4-for-4 from the line.
Sawyer led the Beach with seven rebounds, while Benton led the squad with three assists, and Montgomery posted two blocks.
Notes: The contest marked Long Beach State's first NCAA appearance since 1992 and its 12th overall...Long Beach State is now 18-12 all-time in NCAA action...The Beach shot 55.6 (10-for-18) from three-point range, their second-highest percentage of the season...Jessica Gertz was 3-for-3 from three-point range and had at least one in 11 of her final 12 games this season...LBSU forced 13 turnovers and outscored OSU 16-8 on points off of turnovers...Raven Benton had 17 points marking her eighth-straight game with double-figures...Madison Montgomery had 15 points marking her highest scoring output since a 23-point effort at Hawaii on Jan. 5, 2017.
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