Dec. 21, 2012
LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team survived a low-scoring second half to hold on for a 50-49 victory over Sam Houston State and claim the third annual Beach Classic title Friday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
With the game tied at 49-49, sophomore Alex Sanchez was fouled with 0.6 seconds on the clock and made her first free throw to seal the one-point win.
The 49ers, who built what seemed like a comfortable 16-point lead at the break, shot just 20.8 percent from the floor (5-for-24) and were outscored 28-13 in the second period.
Sophomore Ella Clark and Sanchez tied for the team lead with 14 points each. Clark, who was named the tournament MVP, scored all of her points in the first half, and also finished with five rebounds and a career-high six assists. Junior Jade Wilson added eight points, while sophomore Chantel Dooley had a team-best eight rebounds and three steals.
Long Beach State (6-5) started off hot, taking an early 6-0 lead before the Bearkats got on the board with a pair of free throws at the 18:25 mark. The 49ers then proceeded to score eight unanswered points to go up, 14-2, on a Mary Ochiltree jumper with 14 minutes remaining.
Sam Houston State (3-7) closed the gap to 16-10, but Clark would spark a 19-9 run with four 3-pointers over a seven-minute span as LBSU pulled ahead, 35-19, with 1:15 to play. Wilson connected on a jumper with 2.5 seconds left to give the home team a 37-21 advantage at the break.
Long Beach State shot a blistering 51.9 percent (14-for-27) from the field in the first half. Clark led the way with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.
The Bearkats opened the second period with the first six points before Sanchez had a layup and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to make it 42-27 at the 15:15 mark. The 49ers then went into a slump on the offensive end as SHSU used a 10-0 spurt to pull within five at 42-37.
Lauren Spargo ended an eight-plus minute LBSU scoring drought with a layup at the 7:51 mark, but the Bearkats answered with an 8-2 run to pull within one at 46-45 with 3:28 to go. Devin Hudson then had a layup with the shot clock winding down, before Angela Beadle responded with a jumper to make it 48-47.
With 1:20 remaining, Spargo made 1-of-2 free throws and the 49ers got a defensive stop on the ensuing possession. Sanchez then missed a jumper and the Bearkats grabbed the defensive rebound before calling a timeout. With eight seconds left, they were able to find Sequeena Thomas underneath the basket for a wide-open layup to even the score at 49-49.
It looked as if it would go into overtime before Sanchez drove to the basket and was fouled with 0.6 seconds on the clock. She calmly sank her first free throw to give LBSU the 50-49 win.
Britni Martin led Sam Houston State with a game-high 18 points, while Thomas finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
In addition to Clark being named the Beach Classic MVP, Sanchez, Martin, Thomas and Ebone Henry (Albany) were named to the all-tournament team.
Long Beach State will have a one-week layoff before returning to the Walter Pyramid for its final non-conference game against Columbia at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29.
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