big-west-tournament:-long-beach-state-women-rally-to-avoid-upset-against-uc riverside

Source: OC Register
Big West Tournament: Long Beach State women rally to avoid upset against UC Riverside Dan Arritt %%item_date%% %%item_source%%
The first four women’s basketball games at the Big West Tournament were anything but orderly.

Second-seeded Long Beach State also teetered on the edge of an upset through three quarters of its quarterfinal game against 10th-seeded UC Riverside, but LBSU finally flexed its muscle to start the fourth and held on for a 55-49 victory at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nevada.

“They stepped up, they didn’t want to go home,” Long Beach coach Jeff Cammon said of his players. “You saw the urgency and they performed in the second half.”

Long Beach (23-8) will face either third-seeded Hawaii or sixth-seeded Cal State Fullerton in a semifinal on Friday at 2:30 p.m.

UCR (6-26) was already part of the string of upsets to start the 10-team tournament. UCR beat seventh-seeded Cal Poly, 63-54, on Tuesday, ending an eight-game losing streak.

Ninth-seeded Bakersfield knocked off eighth-seeded Cal State Northridge on Tuesday and then took down top-seeded UC Irvine on Wednesday afternoon.

Riverside appeared to be following suit when it moved ahead by 11 points early in the third quarter and Long Beach could only whittle the deficit to nine by the start of the fourth.

“After the third quarter, during the timeout, we came in and we’re like, ‘If we don’t pick it up we’re going to be back in Long Beach tonight,’” said Tori Harris, the Big West Player of the Year who scored a team-high 14 points.

LBSU then scored the first 14 points of the fourth quarter to surge ahead for good.

Kianna Hamilton-Fisher banked in a shot and then converted a three-point play to pull LBSU within two points. Malia Bambrick then made jumpers on back-to-back trips down the court to move Long Beach ahead 43-41.

Courtney Murphy made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to stretch the lead to 49-43 with 6:01 left.

UCR made a final push to cut the deficit to 51-49 on a layup by Matehya Bryant with 1:13 remaining, but Harris and Bambrick each made two free throws in the final 45 seconds to clinch the win.

“That is Long Beach basketball,” Harris said. “That fourth quarter.”

Bryant scored 19 points and Jordan Webster finished with 12 for UC Riverside.

“We had 19 assists on 22 made field goals, it’s remarkable,” UCR assistant coach Brad Langston said. “In almost every statistical category, we almost won this game.”

Long Beach had every reason to enter the tournament on a sour note.

LBSU missed a chance to clinch the regular-season title when it dropped a 65-56 decision to UC Davis at home on Saturday, a team it beat by 21 points earlier this season.

The loss ended a 15-game winning streak.

“I know a lot of people are saying, ‘How’d you lose’” Cammon said. “That would have been 16 in a row. To carry that is tough, but I don’t think many people understand, so to get that monkey off our back, to be able to just focus on ourselves and let go of some of the expectations that I think people were putting on us, it was a big difference.”

Harris agreed.

“We were feeling like we can’t be beat,” she said.

Long Beach started Wednesday’s game with a steal by Ma’Qhi Berry and a 3-point basket by Harris, but the game would get a lot more difficult on both ends of the floor.

Riverside scored the final four points of the first quarter and Bryant hit a jumper on the Highlanders’ first possession of the second for a 12-11 lead.

UCR made its move in the second quarter with a 10-0 run to take a 22-15 lead with 2:50 left in the half.

Webster faked a 3-pointer from the baseline and sank a pull-up jumper to make it 24-17 with 42 seconds remaining and UCR took that lead into the intermission.

Webster hit a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half to give Riverside its first double-digit lead at 27-17

Webster got the roll on a drive to make it 41-32 after Long Beach had cut the margin to five, taking that lead into the fourth quarter.

79 thoughts on “Big West Tournament: Long Beach State women rally to avoid upset against UC Riverside”
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