Dec. 29, 2012
LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team led wire-to-wire in its third-straight victory as it toppled Columbia, 79-50, Saturday afternoon at the Walter Pyramid.
The 49ers picked up their first 20-point win since a 76-56 triumph over Western Michigan on Dec. 18, 2011. They also extended their win streak to a season-long three games, improving to 7-5 overall.
LBSU, which established a season high in points scored, shot 45.2 percent from the field and was slightly better from 3-point range at 45.8 percent (11-for-24).
Sophomores Bianka Balthazar and Sigrid Skorpen led four 49ers in double figures with 17 points each, marking a career high for both players. Balthazar and Skorpen each had three 3-pointers as they combined for a 6-of-10 performance from beyond the arc.
Sophomore Devin Hudson had her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while adding a career-best four blocks. Sophomore Lauren Spargo chipped in 10 points and five boards, and senior Mary Ochiltree totaled eight points, eight rebounds and a career-high five steals.
Long Beach State struck first with a Balthazar 3-pointer from the top of the key and extended its lead to 9-0, before Columbia got on the board at the 17:19 mark. The Lions then closed the gap to five, but the 49ers proceeded to go on a 14-3 run, capped by a three from Ochiltree, to take a 26-10 lead with 4:34 to play.
Columbia (2-9) came back with an 8-2 spurt of its own to make it 28-18 with 2:01 remaining, forcing LBSU to call a timeout. Clark then hit a 3-pointer out of the short break and Skorpen completed a three-point play with eight seconds on the clock for the 34-18 margin at intermission.
The 49ers shot 40.0 percent from the field, while holding the Lions to 22.2 percent, but they also committed 17 turnovers in the first half.
After Columbia made the first basket of the second period, Long Beach State went on to outscore the visitors, 22-8, over an eight-minute span to open up a 28-point advantage (56-28) with 9:33 to go. Balthazar sparked the run with eight points during that span.
The Lions scored the next 10 points before Skorpen and Ochiltree hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the 49ers on top, 62-38, at the 5:43 mark. LBSU cruised the rest of the way, going up by as many as 31 en route to the 79-50 victory.
LBSU cleaned it up in the second half with just eight turnovers. Skorpen had 13 points and Balthazar had 11 in the final 20 minutes.
The 49ers held Columbia to a 27.0 field goal percentage (17-for-63). Sarah Mead paced the Lions with 11 points, while Tyler Simpson chipped in eight points and six rebounds.
Long Beach State returns to action next week when it hosts Cal Poly in its Big West opener at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 3. The 49ers will enter conference play with a record over .500 for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign when they claimed a share of the regular season title.
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