Caffey scores 23, but key mistakes in final seconds lead LBSU loss

The 49ers can’t hold off a Loyola Marymount comeback in a 74-73 loss.

All it took was six seconds.

That how long Loyola Marymount needed to erase a three-point Long Beach State lead and come back to defeat the 49ers 74-73 Thursday night at the Walter Pyramid.

After going back and forth for most of the first half, the 49ers (1-2) led the Lions (3-0) all the way up until the final minute of the second half. Ahead 73-70 with 45 seconds to go, the 49ers couldn’t get a rebound and allowed LMU to have multiple opportunities to hit a game-tying shot.

The Lions ended up settling for a two-point field goal with 11 seconds to play, seemingly putting LBSU in prime position for the win.

On the ensuing 49er possession, however, Caffey turned the ball over. He then fouled LMU point guard Anthony Ireland, sending the Lions’ leading scorer to the line for a pair of free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining.

Ireland hit both, and after a failed last-second attempt by LBSU’s McKay LaSalle, the game was over.

“Obviously it was a tough loss, a tough way to lose a game,” head coach Dan Monson said. “It was a great game for us in that we got better and we know we can play better, but if you have an opportunity to win, then that’s the bottom line.”

Monson said the mistakes at the end may have had something to do with fatigue for Caffey, who finished with 23 points but played 38 minutes and fouled out at the end.

“I think he was mentally really tired, and physically,” Monson said. “That’s way more minutes that we would have wanted, but when a team is pressuring that much, one or two minutes out of the game can be a six- or eight-point swing.”

The loss was a tough one for the 49ers, who will be on the road for their next five games. With LaSalle hitting big 3-pointers down the stretch and Dan Jennings making dunks and free-throws, a home crowd of 3,250 seemed was alive until the very end.

It was then that the LBSU fans left in shock and the small group of LMU faithful applauded their team.

The 49ers will try to put the loss behind them as they head to Manhattan, Kansas for a game against Kansas State on Sunday.

“You have to have short-term memory,” Jennings said. “It hurts. It really hurts, but you have to have short-term memory because now you have to go play Kansas State … this is no joke. We have to go out there and play hard every possession.”

Sunday’s game against the Wildcats will start at 1 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum.