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LBSU women's hoops suffers heartbreaking loss to Santa Clara, 68-67

Sophomore Bianka Balthazar had a season-high 15 points against Santa Clara.

Dec. 9, 2012

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LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team led by as many as 12, but Santa Clara used a late push and scored the game-winning basket at the buzzer to hand the 49ers a 68-67 loss Sunday afternoon at the Walter Pyramid.

LBSU (4-4) was up by one at 67-66 when it took the ball out of bounds under Santa Clara's basket with eight seconds to go. With no timeouts left, the 49ers were forced into attempting a half-court pass, but it was picked off by the Broncos' Ashley Armstrong. It looked as if Long Beach State would be able to hold on as Armstrong drove into the paint and missed a jumper, but Arteivia Lilomaiava was there for the offensive board and the put back with 0.3 seconds on the clock.

Long Beach State, which shot 41.5 percent from the floor, held the Broncos to a 38.2 field goal percentage and a dismal 1-for-18 performance from 3-point range, but committed 20 turnovers and allowed 21 offensive rebounds.

"Offensive rebounding was the story of the game," 49er head coach Jody Wynn said. "I'm very disappointed with our focus in the last four minutes of the game. I think we allowed way too many second-chance points and had too many turnovers."

Sophomore Bianka Balthazar led LBSU with a season-high 15 points. Junior Jade Wilson added nine points, while sophomore Ella Clark had eight points and six rebounds. Sophomore Alex Sanchez also finished with eight points and classmate Devin Hudson grabbed a team-best eight boards.

It was a back-and-forth affair early in the first half with four tie scores and 10 lead changes. Long Beach State struck first and took a 5-2 advantage on a Lauren Spargo 3-pointer at the 17:32 mark, but Santa Clara responded with seven unanswered points to go up, 9-5.

Another three from Spargo and a pair of free throws from Sigrid Skorpen gave the lead back to the 49ers with 14:34 remaining, but that lead would change hands five more times before the Broncos used a 10-2 spurt to pull ahead, 21-16, with 9:08 to play.

LBSU then came back with six-straight points, capped by a Balthazar 3-pointer, to go on top, 22-21. Balthazar then continued to spark Long Beach State as she scored 11 points over the final eight minutes. During that span, the 49ers went on a 21-9 run and held the Broncos to just three field goals.

LBSU went up by 12 on a Chantel Dooley free throw, but SCU's Nici Gilday hit a jumper with eight seconds left for the 40-30 first-half margin.

Santa Clara opened the second period on a 6-2 spurt that made it 42-36, forcing Long Beach State to use a quick timeout. The 49ers regrouped and went back up by 11 following a Sanchez 3-pointer at the 16:49 mark. The two teams then traded baskets over the next three minutes before the Broncos took advantage of a four-plus minute 49er scoring drought to pull within one at 53-52 with 9:10 remaining. After Hudson ended the scoreless streak with a layup, SCU extended its run to 14-2 to go up, 56-53, at the 8:02 mark.

Long Beach State would tie it back up at 57-57 with a 3-pointer by Mary Ochiltree, but Santa Clara came back with its only trey of the day, followed by a jumper to take a five-point advantage.

Another three from Ochiltree and a Wilson layup evened the score once again (62-62) before Wilson made one-of-two free throws to regain the lead for the 49ers.

Santa Clara (4-4) then knotted it up with a free throw before Clark hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Hudson sank one-of-two attempts from the charity stripe to give LBSU a 67-63 advantage with 1:17 to play. That was the last time the 49ers would score, however, as SCU closed out the game with the final five points, including the buzzer-beater by Lilomaiava.

Meagan Fulps paced the Broncos with a game-high 18 points, while Ruta Zurauskyte also finished with 16 points.

This was the 49ers' second loss of the season that occurred at the buzzer as they fell in similar fashion to Iona on Nov. 11.

Long Beach State will look to bounce back on Saturday, Dec. 15, when it heads south for another contest against a West Coast Conference opponent as it is set for a 2 p.m. showdown with the University of San Diego.



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