Long Beach State fights on but can’t conquer USC

The 49ers fall to the Women of Troy, 89-72.

While most people recovered from their food comas or took down Christmas lights on Saturday afternoon, the Long Beach State women’s basketball team visited the Galen Center where they lost to Southern California, 89-72.

Head coach Jody Wynn has her fair share of positive memories at the USC given her time as a player and assistant coach there, but her most recent game was one she and her team would certainly like to put behind them. Turnovers, poor rebounding and missed free throws put the 49ers in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.

The 49ers held a brief lead in the opening minutes, but it would last just 63 seconds as USC took advantage of the opportunities given to them.

The Trojans are led by head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who is in her first season with USC. The SoCal native is considered by many as one of the greatest women’s basketball players to play, with two WNBA MVP awards, three scoring titles and four WNBA Finals MVP awards to go along with her four championships with the Houston Comets.

USC came into their last home game of the season with two three-game winning streaks; winning their last three games of the season and their last three contests against LBSU.

“I thought we shot the ball well enough,” Wynn said. “However, we didn’t get enough shots off because we turned it over 26 times. Credit their length and athleticism and defensive intensity to our 26 turnovers.”

Despite an ugly first half that consisted of a season-worst 11 turnovers in the first 10 minutes, freshman Raven Benton was a one-woman show, keeping the 49ers close with her 17 points in the first half.

“I’m proud of the way Raven played with no fear,” Wynn said. “She got to the basket and stepped up performed well offensively.”

Ella Clark was the only other player to score more than three points in the first half, as her banked trey right before the buzzer gave her seven in the game and made it 39-33.

The 49ers’ continued poor play off the glass and at the charity stripe prevented LBSU from putting together a run strong enough to surmount the USC lead.

The Beach cut the lead to single digits multiple times in the second half but the Trojans made good use of their possessions and shot 50 percent from the field and 81.5 percent (22-for-27) from the line. Oddly enough, the 49ers shot better from beyond the arc (47.4 percent) than they did from the charity stripe (43.8 percent).

Benton finished with a career-high 26 points in the losing effort with five USC players scoring in double figures.

All-Pac-12 team forward Cassie Harberts scored 24 points and registered 14 boards on Saturday afternoon while junior Ariya Cook, a McDonald’s All-American from Long Beach Poly had 17 and junior Desiree Bradley added 14.

The 49ers return to action at the ‘Mid on Sunday, Jan. 5 when it hosts Denver in their final non-conference game of the season. Tip-off is scheduled at 2 p.m

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