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Long Beach defeats UC Davis behind Booker’s career-high night

Free throw shooting and second half three pointers put the 49ers past the Aggies in their Big West opener.

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Long Beach defeats UC Davis behind Booker’s career-high night

Senior point guard Deishuan Booker drives to the basket against UC Davis Saturday.

Senior point guard Deishuan Booker drives to the basket against UC Davis Saturday.

Alex Manfredi | Daily 49er

Senior point guard Deishuan Booker drives to the basket against UC Davis Saturday.

Alex Manfredi | Daily 49er

Alex Manfredi | Daily 49er

Senior point guard Deishuan Booker drives to the basket against UC Davis Saturday.

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Despite redshirt senior forward Temidayo Yussuf sitting out due to knee soreness, the Long Beach State men’s basketball team pulled away with a 82-77 win over UC Davis Saturday to begin Big West conference play.

Senior point guard Deishuan Booker set the tone for Long Beach (7-10 overall, 1-0 Big West), scoring 32 points and swiping five steals. Booker shot 19-of-20 at the free throw line and did not miss one down the stretch.

“It just all comes from repetition, I’ve seen myself shoot those shots time and time again so I’m comfortable in those situations,” Booker said.

Long Beach opened up the game in an aggressive zone defense and it paid off. The 49ers had five deflections and a steal to start out, with a focus on containing UC Davis point guard TJ Shorts and trying to keep him out of the paint.

“We started the game in zone to try to keep [Shorts’] penetration low,” head coach Dan Monson said. “Second half, in the first 15 minutes defensively it was one of our better efforts. Hopefully it’s something we can grow.”

While Monson doesn’t usually have his team start games in a zone defense, he credits assistant coach Bobby Braswell for introducing it to the team and said he is seeing improvement with it.

“With our length and athleticism, I think zone is a viable option for us,” Monson said. “I think the zone is progressing. Coach Bras [Braswell] brought that, it’s kind of a different zone that I’ve ever coached but our guys are starting to buy in and get better at it.”

After a low scoring first half with only one three pointer made by the 49ers, Long Beach found its rhythm to begin the second half. The 49ers were sparked by a few steals and a block that opened up the half on a 9-0 run to take a 36-35 lead.

With 10:13 left to play, Long Beach took a 10 point lead, its largest of the game. From that point on, it was a close battle down the stretch. UC Davis took a one point lead with five minutes left, but free throw shooting and three pointers from sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni (15 points) pushed the 49ers to victory.

Next up for Long Beach is a 7 p.m. matchup Wednesday at UC Irvine.

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