March 25, 2014
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LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team's quest for the Big West Tournament title came to an end in the quarterfinals where it fell to third-seeded Hawai'i, but the 49ers still finished the season with an overall record of 17-15, marking the most wins by an LBSU squad since 2005-06.
BIG WEST TOURNAMENT RECAP
No. 6 seed Long Beach State nearly pulled off an upset in the Big West Tournament quarterfinals, but ultimately dropped a close 52-49 decision to third-seeded Hawai'i at the Walter Pyramid on March 11. Although the 49ers struggled offensively, they were able to keep it close with their defensive pressure. They also performed well on the boards, grabbing 42 rebounds, including 15 on the offensive glass.
LBSU shot just 28.3 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from 3-point range and 62.5 percent from the free throw line. Raven Benton was Long Beach State's high scorer with 11 points, nine of which came at the charity stripe. Ella Clark finished with a career-high 14 rebounds, to go along with six points and three blocks. Lauren Spargo chipped in eight points and six boards, while Jade Wilson had seven points and five rebounds. Anna Kim also recorded seven boards and three assists.
Overall, there were 16 lead changes and 12 tie scores in the game and it ended up going down to the wire. The 49ers fell behind by four with 7:38 to play, before rallying with a 10-5 run over the next five-plus minutes to hold a 49-48 advantage. UH then drew a foul with 1:41 remaining and made both attempts from the line for the 50-49 edge. After each team failed to score on consecutive possessions, Clark grabbed her 14th rebound of the night to give Long Beach State the ball with 29 seconds left. LBSU worked to get it inside to Wilson, but Morgan Mason came up with a big steal and was quickly fouled with 6.9 ticks on the clock. She made both ends of the one-and-one and a last-second 3-point attempt by Meneses hit the front of the iron to give the Rainbow Wahine the 52-49 victory.
Long Beach State advanced to the quarterfinals with a 64-60 win over seventh-seeded Cal State Fullerton. The 49ers had a much better shooting night as they were 43.1 percent from the floor and made 12-of-14 from the foul line. LBSU also won the battle on the boards, 39-to-29.
Lauren Spargo was 4-for-7 from behind the arc and finished with a game-high 19 points. She also had seven rebounds, while Clark was one shy of a double-double as she registered 15 points and nine boards. Benton contributed 10 points.
FOUR 49ERS EARN ALL-BIG WEST HONORS
Long Beach State had four players named to the All-Big West Team as Lauren Spargo and Ella Clark earned honorable mention recognition, while Raven Benton and Anna Kim were selected to the five-member All-Freshman Team.
Despite finishing with a slightly better record than last season, LBSU was not selected to partcipate in the WNIT. In 2012-13, Long Beach State made its first postseason appearance in 13 years as it earned an at-large bid to the WNIT. The 49ers ended up falling to eventual finalist Utah, 56-49, in first-round action at the Walter Pyramid. In 2000, LBSU advanced to the third round. The 49ers own a 2-2 overall record in their two WNIT appearances.
STEALING THE SHOW
Long Beach State finished the regular season tops in the Big West and 49th in all of NCAA Division I with 9.4 steals per outing. LBSU recorded 10 or more steals in 14 contests, including a season-high 18 against Harvard. Three 49ers - Alex Sanchez (6th), Jade Wilson (7th) and Hallie Meneses (8th) - also finished among the conference's individual top-10 in steals per game.
Long Beach State put together an incredible run at the free throw line where it made 92 percent of its attempts (46-for-50) over a two-game span. The 49ers were an astounding 34-of-36 at the charity stripe in a win at UC Riverside on March 8. They followed that outing with a 12-for-14 performance in a Big West Tournament first-round victory against Cal State Fullerton. That streak would come to a halt in the quarterfinals where LBSU was just 15-of-24 from the foul line in a season-ending loss to Hawai'i. Long Beach State finished the year as a 68.5 percent free throw shooting team.
PROTECTING THE PYRAMID
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 34-15 (.694) record at the Walter Pyramid. After boasting an impressive 11-3 home record more than two-thirds of the way through the season, the 49ers stumbled late, dropping three of its last four games at the Walter Pyramid to finish with a 12-6 mark.
Long Beach State had a nice balance as seven players averaged at least 20 minutes a game, with Ella Clark leading the way at 27.4 minutes per contest. With everyone getting equal playing time, LBSU saw six different players record at least 20 points in a game. Four 49ers also had more than one 20-point outing, and all nine active players reached double figures in scoring.
IN THE 80'S
The 49ers surpassed the 80-point mark in seven games this season (6-1), which is more than the last four years combined. The last time LBSU had at least seven 80-point performances in a season was in 2001-02. Long Beach State also registered back-to-back 80-point games for the first time in 11 years as they scored 88 against Denver (Jan. 5) and followed with 84 vs. UC Irvine (Jan. 9).
Raven Benton finished with a team-leading three double-doubles, while Jade Wilson was not far behind with two. Benton registered 17 points and 10 rebounds at UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 13). She also started off Big West play with 18 points and a career-high 15 boards vs. UC Irvine. Her first double-double of the season came against Loyola Marymount (16 pts, 10 rebs). Wilson, meanwhile, finished with a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds against Hawai'i, and had 10 points and a career-best 13 boards in an overtime win vs. the Anteaters. In addition, Madison Montgomery compiled 10 points and 10 boards vs. Pepperdine, while Jewelyn Sawyer had 10 points and 11 rebounds at Cal State Fullerton.
Every 49er who attempted a 3-pointer this season made at least one, with four players connecting for more than 30 threes. Lauren Spargo was tops on the team with 43 treys, which stands as the 10th-best single-season mark in program history. Hallie Meneses added 39 3-pointers, while Ella Clark had 38. Anna Kim also made 33 shots from behind the arc.
FOR THE RECORD
Ella Clark ranks among the 49er all-time career leaders in blocks (T4th, 159) and 3-pointers made (7th, 111). Lauren Spargo is also fourth with 122 career threes made. In addition, the duo ranks among the top-10 in 3-point field goals attempted.
ON THE REBOUND
Long Beach State, which was outrebounded 22 times during the regular season, turned things around in the Big West Tournament where they posted a plus-eight margin on the boards. LBSU owned a 39-29 advantage against Cal State Fullerton and held a 42-36 edge vs. Hawai'i. The 49ers' best rebounding performance of the year came in their Big West opener against UC Irvine (Jan. 9), where they outperformed the Anteaters on the boards, 62-42. The 62 rebounds were a season high and were the most by a Long Beach State squad since pulling down 66 against Oregon in 2010.
For the second-straight year, Long Beach State will lose just one player to graduation. Barring any more long-term injuries, the 49ers will return four seniors, three redshirt juniors and four sophomores. They will also add incoming freshmen Jessica Gertz and Cecily Wilson, who signed National Letters of Intent with The Beach during the early signing period.