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49ers Host Denver in Final Non-Conference Game on Sunday

Long Beach State wraps up its non-conference schedule on Sunday when it entertains Denver at 2 p.m.
(Photo by John Fajardo)

Jan. 3, 2014

Denver (2-11) at
Long Beach State (7-6)
Sunday, Jan. 5
Time: 2 p.m. (PST)
Location: Walter Pyramid
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The Long Beach State women's basketball team concludes its non-conference slate on Sunday, Jan. 5, when it welcomes Denver to the Walter Pyramid for a 2 p.m. (PST) showdown.

Fans can follow the 49ers all season long with every women's basketball game being broadcast live via Stretch Internet Radio on Tyler Hendrickson returns for his second year as LBSU's play-by-play announcer.

Denver (2-11) recently snapped a nine-game skid with a 67-60 victory at Illinois State on Monday, Dec. 30. Kailey Edwards leads the Pioneers with 13.2 points per game, while Paige Bradley is averaging 12.6 points and a team-best 4.7 assists per outing. Theresa Wirth has also registered 9.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest. Denver will play at Cal State Fullerton (Jan. 3) before making its way to Long Beach.

This will mark the first meeting between Long Beach State and Denver.

A 49er victory against Denver on Sunday will mean:
- LBSU will improve to 2-0 against Summit League opponents this season.
- LBSU will finish non-conference play with a record over .500 for the second year in a row.
- LBSU will improve to 6-2 at home with their only losses coming to teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the national polls.

Over the last two-plus years, LBSU has been tough to beat at home. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the 49ers have posted a 27-11 (.711) record at the Walter Pyramid. Long Beach State is 5-2 at home this year.

The 49ers are down to nine active players from its original 13-member roster. Bianka Balthazar, Chantel Dooley and Devin Hudson are out with injuries, while Bree Throop decided to leave the team and return home to Colorado.

Long Beach State leads the Big West with 10.5 steals per outing. LBSU has had 10 or more steals in eight contests, including a season-high 18 against Harvard. Four 49ers - Anna Kim (1.85), Alex Sanchez (1.77), Jade Wilson (1.69) and Hallie Meneses (1.62) - also rank among the conference's individual top-10 in steals per game.

Freshman Raven Benton has registered a team-best 10 double-figure scoring games, with three of those coming in the form of 20-point performances. She recently drained a career-high 26 points at USC, where she was 9-of-17 from the field and 3-for-6 from behind the arc. Benton also netted 22 points in a double-overtime victory at San Francisco and finished with 21 points in 21 minutes played vs. Harvard in the first round of the ASU Classic. She added 16 points in 13 minutes of action in the championship game at tournament host Arizona State, earning her all-tournament honors and the Big West Women's Basketball Player of the Week award (Dec. 9). The Federal Way, Wash., native also had 18 points vs. San Diego, 17 points vs. Miami and registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Loyola Marymount. In addition, she had 11 points vs. Pepperdine, 10 vs. Omaha and 10 vs. Richmond. On the year, Benton is tops on the team with 13.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. She is also second on the team with a 44.7 field goal percentage, and has gotten herself to the free throw line 97 times where she has made 71.1 percent of her attempts.

After sitting out all of last year with an ACL injury, junior point guard Hallie Meneses has not missed a beat in her return as the 49ers' floor leader. She has led the team in assists in nine games and ranks fifth in the Big West with 4.2 assists per outing. The San Francisco, Calif., native has also recently stepped up her offensive production as she had three-straight double-figure scoring performances from Dec. 17-21. Meneses started the streak with 15 points, four assists and four steals against Miami (Ohio). She then came up big at the Beach Classic (Dec. 20-21), registering a season-high 17 points vs. Richmond and 15 points vs. No. 23 Florida State in the championship game, to earn all-tournament honors. During that three-game stretch, Meneses shot 64.0 percent from the floor and was a blistering 10-for-17 (58.9 percent) from 3-point range. Earlier in the year, Meneses also spearheaded a 23-point comeback win against Harvard at the ASU Classic, as she finished with 11 points, eight helpers and four steals.

Junior guard Alex Sanchez (Anaheim, Calif.) has continued to be LBSU's top all-around player as she is averaging 11.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. She drained a career-high 24 points on a 10-for-15 shooting performance in a narrow overtime loss at Arizona State. At the Beach Classic, Sanchez totaled 14 points and a season-best six assists vs. Richmond. She was nearly unstoppable against the Spiders as she was 7-of-8 from the floor. Sanchez then came back the next day to net 21 points against No. 23 Florida State in the championship game. She garnered all-tournament honors for her effort. Earlier in the year, Sanchez finished with 19 points and seven boards in a win at San Francisco and came up with a career-high tying six steals vs. LMU. Sanchez, a two-time all-conference selection, was named to the six-player preseason All-Big West team.

Ella Clark ranks among the 49er all-time leaders in blocks (6th, 140) and 3-pointers made (9th, 92). Lauren Spargo is tied for 10th with 91 threes made, while both Clark and Spargo are also among the top-10 in 3-point field goals attempted.

Long Beach State will host UC Irvine in its Big West opener on Thursday, Jan. 9. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. as the game will be the front end of a doubleheader with the men's team.



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