Daily 49er

Long Beach’s late surge gets denied

The 49ers’ slow start forced an uphill battle that could not be won.

Long+Beach+State+freshman+Edon+Maxhuni+dribbles+the+ball+to+the+paint+in+Thursday%27s+game+against+UC+Santa+Barbara.
Long Beach State freshman Edon Maxhuni dribbles the ball to the paint in Thursday's game against UC Santa Barbara.

Long Beach State freshman Edon Maxhuni dribbles the ball to the paint in Thursday's game against UC Santa Barbara.

Joseph Kling

Joseph Kling

Long Beach State freshman Edon Maxhuni dribbles the ball to the paint in Thursday's game against UC Santa Barbara.

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The Long Beach men’s basketball team picked up pace near the end Thursday’s home game, but failed to comeback in a 80-70 loss to UC Santa Barbara.

An ugly first half led to the 49ers being down as much as 21 which was the ultimate dagger in the team’s double-digit loss.

LBSU (13-15, 7-5 Big West) only led by three at the beginning of the contest before UC Santa Barbara (20-5, 9-2 Big West) took over. Senior forward Gabe Levin was able to get the first two baskets of the game, but it wouldn’t be enough. The Gauchos has four double-digit scorers including graduate forward Leland King II who had 20 points and 15 rebounds. The 49ers would never be able to bring their deficit back to single digits until the very last moments of the game.

“It was a disappointing performance for us,” head coach Dan Monson said. “We’ve relied on our offense so much this year, our identity has been to score this year and not stop anybody.”

Long Beach could not find any offensive rhythm in the first half shooting 0 of 14 from beyond the arc and a dismal 17.2 percent from the field.

To end the first half the 49ers actually had more turnovers (8) than made baskets (5).

“They made us make tough plays and really shrunk the court,” Monson said. “We were trying to do too much, instead of slowing down we were just trying to score.”

Long Beach has struggled all year to find a balance between its offense and defense and that inconsistency has led to opponents taking over.

“We’re good enough in spurts to be the best team in this league,” Monson said. “But it’s not the best team in the league its the most consistent, and that’s Santa Barbara.”

Levin had a solid game with 25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks while freshman Edon Maxhuni had a career-high 20 points that all came in the second half after draining four triples and getting to the rim for four easy layups. Both performances were overshadowed by the Gauchos ability to answer back. Junior forward Temidayo Yussuf struggled all night and would not score the entire game after getting in early foul trouble.

“I just tried to forget the first half and was able to get it going in the second,” Maxhuni said. “It was just too late.”

With four games left in the season, the 49ers will just look to find some consistency before heading to the Big West tournament.

“We’re a team full of fighters and I know that we can make some noise in the tournament,” Levin said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time and gain some momentum.”

Long Beach will now travel for a three game road trip, starting with at 9 p.m. game Thursday at Hawai’i.

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