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49ers host Utah Valley in season opener before heading to New York to face Syracuse

Third-year head coach Jody Wynn and her 49ers begin the 2011-12 season at home against Utah Valley on Friday.

Nov. 8, 2011

Utah Valley (0-0) at
Long Beach State (0-0)
Friday, Nov. 11
Time: 7 p.m. (PST)
Location: Walter Pyramid
Follow the 49ers: Listen | Live Stats

Long Beach State (0-0) at
Syracuse (0-0)
Sunday, Nov. 13
Time: 10 a.m. (PST)
Location: Carrier Dome
Follow the 49ers: Listen

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LONG BEACH - The Long Beach State women's basketball team kicks off the 2011-12 season on Friday, Nov. 11, when it plays host to Utah Valley at 7 p.m. The 49ers then begin a seven-game road swing with a trip to New York where they will square off against BIG EAST foe Syracuse at 10 a.m. (PST) on Sunday, Nov. 13.

Fans can follow the 49ers all season long with every women's basketball game being broadcast live via Stretch Internet Radio on David Bagga is LBSU's play-by-play announcer.

Utah Valley returns 10 letterwinners from a 2010-11 squad that went 8-21 overall and finished fourth in the Great West Conference with a 5-7 mark. Junior Sammie Jensen is the Wolverines' top returner as she averaged a double-double last year with 14.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Senior Jenna Johnson was also the team's second-leading scorer at 13.5 points per outing.

Cathy Nixon is in her 17th season at the helm of the Utah Valley women's basketball program.

Syracuse is coming off a 2010-11 campaign in which it went 25-10 overall and 9-7 in BIG EAST action, while advancing to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. Junior Kayla Alexander was named to the preseason All-BIG EAST team after earning first-team honors last year as she led the Orange in scoring (14.8 ppg), blocks (91) and field goal percentage (54.9). Senior Iasia Hemingway also averaged 12.7 points per contest and is Syracuse's top returning rebounder (7.4 rpg).

Quentin Hillsman is entering his sixth season as the head coach for the Orange.

The 49ers' season opener marks the program's first-ever meeting with Utah Valley.

LBSU trails in its short series with Syracuse, 1-0. In the only meeting between the two teams on Nov. 17, 2001, the Orange defeated Long Beach State, 76-70, in overtime at the Walter Pyramid.

Long Beach State is 28-20 in season openers dating back to the 1963-64 campaign. LBSU's last season-opening victory was in 2009-10 when it defeated Prairie View A&M, 76-68, at the Walter Pyramid in Jody Wynn's first game as the 49ers' head coach. Long Beach State is 18-6 when opening the season at home.

Sophomore Ella Clark (London, England) kept herself busy over the summer, playing with the Great Britain U-20 Women's National Team. The 6-foot-3 forward averaged 6.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game at the 2011 Division A European Championships in Novi Sad, Serbia, where her squad finished eighth overall. Clark was also a member of the World University Games team that advanced to the classification quarterfinals in Shenzhen, China, in August. The summer prior to her freshman season at Long Beach State, Clark helped the U-20 squad win the European B Division title.

Last year with the 49ers, Clark established a freshman record of 55 blocked shots, which also ranks her ninth in LBSU single-season history. She also averaged 6.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per outing.

Senior Tipesa Moorer (Harbor City, Calif.) is looking to play a part in the turnaround of the 49er women's basketball program in her final season at Long Beach State. LBSU hasn't had an overall winning record since 2005-06, although as a sophomore, Moorer helped the squad to a 9-7 finish in Big West play.

The 5-foot-10 forward is the 49ers' top returning scorer after averaging 7.7 points per game last year. In her three years at Long Beach State, Moorer has averaged 5.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest.

Sophomore Sendy Valles, who was one of three freshmen that was thrust into the starting lineup last year, showed vast improvements throughout the 2010-11 season. The Milliken, Colo., native averaged an identical 2.9 points and 2.9 rebounds over the first 18 games of the season, but she started to find her rhythm after draining a then season-high 16 points at Pacific. Valles went on to average 11.5 points and 6.7 boards over the next six outings. She had a career-high 24 points in a win over UC Irvine and also grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds against Pacific. Valles finished the season with 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest.

For the second year in a row, Long Beach State has a roster that features more newcomers than returners. The 49ers have just four letterwinners back from last year's squad, but despite the youth and inexperience, third-year head coach Jody Wynn is optimistic about the upcoming season.

"I think this year will be an opportunity for us to turn the corner and seriously contend for a Big West championship," Wynn said. "Obviously we are very young, but the caliber of players and the culture has changed in a positive direction. Our coaching staff is very pleased with what we have seen so far."

In addition to the three players who redshirted last season (Chantel Dooley, Jhakia McDonald and Alex Sanchez), the 49ers bring in six newcomers, including Bianka Balthazar (Fr., G/F, 5-11), Hallie Meneses (So., G, 5-5), Sigrid Skorpen (Fr., G, 5-10), Mary Ochiltree (Jr., G/F, 5-11), Devin Hudson (Fr., P, 6-3) and Lauren Spargo (Fr., G, 5-11).

Long Beach State was picked to finish ninth in the 2011-12 Big West Preseason Poll as selected by a panel of media members around the conference. Cal Poly was chosen to repeat as the regular season champions, while UC Santa Barbara came in second.

Long Beach State is back on the road next weekend when it heads to Northern California for a pair of non-conference games. The 49ers will face Sacramento State at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, before making their way to Santa Clara for a 7 p.m. showdown against the Broncos on Monday (Nov. 21).



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