March 20, 2013
LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team went toe-to-toe with Pac-12 foe Utah, but a late push by the Utes gave them the 56-49 victory in a WNIT first-round game Wednesday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
It was LBSU's first postseason appearance since they received an invitation to the WNIT in 2000. In addition, it was the first-ever women's basketball postseason game to be held in the Walter Pyramid.
"It was such an amazing opportunity to have a chance to play in the postseason for the first time in 13 years," 49er head coach Jody Wynn said. "We are very fortunate to have an administration that cares enough about women's basketball to step up and host this game. Although we weren't able to pull out the win, I feel like we grew so much throughout the year and learned a lot about what we can do and what we're all capable of doing."
The 49ers finished the game shooting 38 percent. They were outrebounded by a narrow 31-28 margin, but forced 18 turnovers with 11 steals. Sophomore Chantel Dooley led the way with five of those takeaways. She also totaled five points and five rebounds.
Sophomore Alex Sanchez paced the offense with 13 points and six assists, while classmate Ella Clark had three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points. Sophomore Devin Hudson grabbed a team-best six rebounds.
Long Beach State struck first as Sanchez found Hudson down low for a layup on the opening possession. It then went back-and-forth with a couple of lead changes before Utah pulled ahead, 10-6, at the 16:04 mark.
The 49ers would end a four-plus minute scoring drought for both teams with a 3-pointer from Clark to close the gap to one. The Utes then answered with a 7-2 spurt to go on top, 17-11 with 8:56 remaining. LBSU would come within two, but Utah was able to stay out front until the end of the half, taking a 26-20 lead into the locker room.
Clark started the second period with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to three before the Utes scored six-straight to go up, 32-23, at the 17:35 mark. Utah proceeded to take a nine-point advantage, but Long Beach State scored a couple of quick baskets off of its pressure defense and eventually came within four (41-37) on a Dooley free throw with 7:33 to play.
The Utes responded once again, however, this time with a 13-2 run that opened up a 54-39 lead that put the game out of reach for the 49ers. LBSU did everything it could down the stretch, outscoring Utah, 10-2, over the final two minutes, but it ultimately ran out of time as the visitors held on for the 56-49 win.
Utah (19-13) made 47.6 percent of its shots and was led by All-Pac-12 selection Michelle Plouffe, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Long Beach State finishes the season with a 16-16 overall record. The 49ers registered the most wins in a season since 2005-06 when they went 18-10.
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