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49er Women's Hoops Set to Host Annual Beach Classic This Weekend
The 49ers welcome Richmond, Florida State and Pacific to the Walter Pyramid for the annual Beach Classic this weekend.

The 49ers welcome Richmond, Florida State and Pacific to the Walter Pyramid for the annual Beach Classic this weekend.

Dec. 18, 2013

Richmond (5-5) at
Long Beach State (6-4)
Friday, Dec. 20
Time: 5 p.m. (PST)
Location: Walter Pyramid
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No. 24 Florida State (9-1) or Pacific (4-4) at
Long Beach State (6-4)
Saturday, Dec. 21
Time: 3 or 5 p.m. (PST)
Location: Walter Pyramid
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The Long Beach State women's basketball team wraps up its season-long four-game homestand by hosting the Beach Classic at the Walter Pyramid this weekend. The 49ers are set to open the tournament with a 5 p.m. contest against Richmond on Friday, Dec. 20. No. 24 Florida State and Pacific will then square off in the second game of the day at approximately 7 p.m.

The winners advance to the championship game at 5 p.m. and the losers will meet in the consolation game at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21.

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

Richmond has won four of its last five games to even its record at 5-5. The Spiders defeated College of Charleston, 80-73, in their last outing on Dec. 14. Genevieve Okoro leads the squad with 11.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest. Liz Brown is also averaging 8.7 points and a team-high 9.0 boards per game.

Long Beach State and Richmond have faced each other once before as the 49ers topped the Spiders, 59-51, in the Walter Pyramid on Nov. 26, 2005.

No. 24 Florida State (9-1) brings a five-game win streak into the Beach Classic. The Seminoles' only loss of the year came at then No. 4 Louisville in overtime. Natasha Howard is tops on the squad with 16.3 points and 2.5 blocks per game, while Ivey Slaughter leads the way on the boards with 9.0 rebounds per outing.

Pacific (4-4) has dropped its last two games, falling to Hawai'i, 81-70, and No. 21 Cal, 68-66 (ot). Kendall Kenyon is averaging a double-double for the Tigers with a team-best 18.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per contest.

Florida State defeated Long Beach State, 94-64, in the only meeting between the two teams in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 22, 1998.

LBSU leads in its all-time series with former Big West member Pacific, 37-24, but the Tigers have claimed the last four meetings.

The 49ers defeated Canisius College and Sam Houston State to claim the Beach Classic title last year. Ella Clark was named the tournament MVP, while Alex Sanchez also garnered all-tournament honors.

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 26-10 (.722) record at the Walter Pyramid. Long Beach State is 4-1 at home this year.

Long Beach State is off to its best 10-game start in seven years. With a record of 6-4, the 49ers are also over .500 after the first 10 games for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign.

Long Beach State is tops in the Big West with 11.5 steals per outing. LBSU has had 10 or more steals in seven contests, including a season-high 18 against Harvard. Four 49ers - Hallie Meneses (2.1), Anna Kim (2.0), Jade Wilson (1.9) and Alex Sanchez (1.7) - also rank among the conference's individual top-10 in steals per game.

After shooting below 70 percent from the free throw line in five of their first six games, the 49ers have seen a huge improvement at the stripe as they have now made over 70 percent of their attempts in four-straight contests. Hallie Meneses also has a streak of her own, as she has made 19 consecutive free throws. She has not missed since the second game of the year at Nevada on Nov. 15. On the year, Meneses is tops in the Big West with a 95.7 free throw percentage (22-of-23).

Freshman Raven Benton has posted eight consecutive double-figure scoring games, with two of those coming in the form of 20-point performances as she netted a career-high 22 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 and 10 vs. Omaha. On the year, Benton is averaging 13.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per outing, while shooting at a 46.4 percent clip. She has also gotten herself to the free throw line 73 times where she has made 74.0 percent of her attempts.

Junior guard Alex Sanchez (Anaheim, Calif.) has continued to be LBSU's top all-around player as she is averaging 10.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game. She drained a career-high 24 points on a 10-for-15 shooting performance in a narrow 74-67 overtime loss at Arizona State. Sanchez also finished with 19 points and a season-best 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.

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 recently had a season-high 15 points, to go along with four assists and four steals against Miami. 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. Over the two-day tournament, Meneses averaged 6.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game. The San Francisco, Calif., native also registered 11 points against Loyola Marymount, where she went 4-for-6 from the floor with three of her field goals coming from behind the arc. In addition, she compiled four assists vs. LMU, seven vs. Pepperdine and six vs. Omaha. Meneses ranks fourth in the Big West with a team-high 4.3 assists per outing.

Ella Clark ranks sixth among the 49er all-time leaders with 133 career blocks, while Lauren Spargo is tied for ninth with 91 threes made. Both Clark and Spargo are also among the top-10 in 3-point field goals attempted.

Long Beach State will have a six-day layoff before heading to USC for a 2 p.m. non-conference game on Saturday, Dec. 28.