‘Niners endure first loss to Trojans
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 17:11
The Long Beach State men’s basketball team learned Tuesday night that it has a long way to go if it’s going to compete with the nation’s elite teams in the upcoming weeks.
Twelve first-half turnovers and a stretch in the second of nearly 16 minutes without a field goal led to the 49ers’ (1-1) demise in a 62-44 loss to Southern California (2-0) at the Galen Center.
Despite trailing by just five points at the half, The Beach went 15:55 without making anything other than free-throws and mustered up just 20 points after the break. The inability to knock down shots led to the Trojans slowly expanding the lead and eventually claiming the 18-point victory.
Mike Caffey paced the 49ers offensively but was forced to play 33 minutes due an ankle injury sustained by backup point guard Branford Jones during Saturday’s season opener. Jones’ absence also contributed to The Beach being dominated 23-3 in bench scoring.
Caffey led all scorers with 17 points to go along with three assists and two rebounds.
The sophomore said that even with the loss, the squad believes it can contend with any team it faces as long as it continues to learn and progress.
“We came in thinking we were going to win, but in that second half we couldn’t get the ball in the hole and missed a lot of shots we usually make,” he said. “As you could see in the first half, we can play anybody. We’ve just got to play for the whole 40 minutes. If we buckle down, we can play anybody.”
Senior guard James Ennis added 13 points, five rebounds and two assists but also committed five of the 49ers’ 18 total turnovers.
LBSU head coach Dan Monson said USC’s size and length down low were tough to match up with.
“They’ve got great length in there, and they did a great job,” Monson said. “We’re still trying to get an identity in the paint.”
The sixth-year coach added that the team can benefit and grow while playing one of the most stringent nonconference schedules in the country.
“This is a good game for us; we’ve got a long way to go,” he said. “It’s preseason, and that’s why we play these games. We’re playing to get exposed like we did, and hopefully tomorrow we can go and work on some things and get better.”
The Trojans used a balanced scoring attack, led by Eric Wise who scored 10 points to go with a game-high 12 boards and three assists.
USC out-shot the 49ers 44.6 percent to 28.6 percent on the night.
The Beach returns to action Friday night when its hosts No. 11 North Carolina in what many have already been dubbed the biggest home contest in the history of Long Beach State athletics.
Tip-off is set for 8:10 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid.