Men’s basketball team dominated in road loss to No. 6 Arizona

LBSU faces defeat for the first time this season in a 91-57 to the Wildcats.

Men’s basketball team dominated in road loss to No. 6 Arizona

Todd Johnson

Dan Jennings, left, follows Kris Gulley to the basket during Saturday’s home opener. Jennings led the 49ers with 16 points in Monday’s loss to sixth-ranked Arizona. Gulley scored three points on 1-for-5 shooting.

After the Long Beach State men’s basketball home opener Saturday, head coach Dan Monson said, “If they [the 49ers] can’t [get into rhthym] against Arizona, we’re in trouble.”

They were in trouble.

The 49ers shot just 5-for-35 from the field and made only one of their 14 attempts behind the arc in the first half on their way to a 91-57 loss to No. 6 Arizona Monday at McKale Center.

LBSU (1-1) started off slowly, falling behind 14-4 seven minutes into the game. The 49ers’ shooting woes kept them to 18 points in the first half while the Wildcats (2-0) built a comfortable lead with 44 first-half points.

“I wasn’t surprised that we only had 18 points at the half,” Monson said. “I knew offensively we were a work in progress and we were going to struggle. What I didn’t like is how we reacted to it. We didn’t fight through adversity as a group.”

With an insurmountable deficit already piled on at the break, the 49ers came out of the locker room and simply kept pace with the Wildcats.

“At the second half, we played a little better, played a little harder,” center Dan Jennings said. “But I’m going to be honest, our effort wasn’t there in the first half. Arizona came out with a passion, and they came out playing harder than us.”

Arizona’s lead stayed in the range of 24 to 28 points all the way up to the 10-minute mark of the second half.

The Wildcats then made seven of their next eight shots, extending their lead to 34 points with six minutes remaining.

The sight of Arizona shots falling through the basket was a common one Monday night, as the Wildcats shot 58.6 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point land.

Arizona made five of eight threes attempted in the first half, essentially burying the 49ers with every buried shot.

“We play these games to see where we are at against one of the best teams in the country, and we are just not at that level,” Monson said. “We have to walk away knowing that we have a lot of work to do and go do it. We were dominated in every phase of the game.”

The 49ers did pick up their scoring in the second half with 39 points. They were led by Jennings, who scored 13 of his 16 points in the last 18 minutes.

LBSU couldn’t make up the deficit, though, and walked away from its first road game with a 91-57 loss.

Junior point guard Mike Caffey, who was held to just six points after scoring a career-high 27 on Saturday, said the 49ers’ defense wasn’t able to make Arizona uncomfortable.

“We were focusing on stopping Arizona’s fast breaks,” he said. “They got a couple of fast break points, and that got them going. They made a couple shots, so after that, they just kept rolling.”

With star freshman Aaron Gordon and established players Brandon Ashley and T.J. McConnell seemingly scoring at will, the Wildcats capitalized on every 49er mistake, with a fair amount of them resulting in crowd-pleasing dunks.

Next up for the 49ers is a home game against Loyola Marymount. LBSU will host the Lions at 7 p.m. on Thursday.