Sitting in my apartment with single-digit temperatures and multiple inches of snow outside, it is difficult to empathize with the residents of Long Beach, California.
However, it has been a rough season thus far for the Long Beach State 49ers and their fans. LBSU entered last night sitting at just 2-10 for the year, most recently having blown a halftime lead against Texas.
In fairness, the 49ers have played a brutal schedule to this point with four of those losses coming to KenPom top 10 squads. They have also been away from home often, with all 10 losses coming on the road or at a neutral site.
While the team and its fanbase alike can take solace in having played one of the toughest schedules in the country, it was time to start proving they could win games. That is exactly what they did on Friday night, taking down Pac 12 opponent Oregon State 71-67.
The game will not officially go down as a true road contest for LBSU because it was part of Dam City Classic in Portland, but the win still has to be a confidence boost for the 49ers. They were able to overcome a four-point halftime deficit and received a 19-point performance from Evan Payne, who has stepped up as a leader on the court for LBSU after transferring from Loyola Marymount. Roschon Prince was also pivotal in the victory, tallying a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, while also making the basket that gave LBSU the lead for good with just over two and a half minutes to play.
UT Arlington and Portland Cling to Wins
Both UT Arlington and Portland are off to solid starts to their campaigns. However, Friday night was a struggle for both of them.
UT Arlington had not played since its massive road win at St. Mary’s on Dec. 8. Its offense was a bit sluggish on Friday night against Bradley, perhaps a direct result of the time off. The Mavericks only shot 33.3 percent from the floor, but held the Braves to just 33.9 percent shooting to pick up the 56-51 win on the road.
The Mavericks actually opened the game on the 12-0 run, but Bradley closed the gap to just seven at the halfway point. Bradley was then within one possession for a good portion of the second half, but UT Arlington never surrendered the lead. The Mavericks were led once more by Kevin Hervey (you should expect this by now) who scored a game-high 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. The win makes eight in a row for UT Arlington.
Unlike UT Arlington, who opened up a double-digit lead at the start of the game, Portland started to separate from South Dakota early in the second half on Friday night. The Pilots led by as many as 14 in the second half and were up by 10 with just under six minutes to play.
But, South Dakota stormed back in the game’s final minutes, tying things up on two of Matt Mooney’s 15 points with only 25 seconds to play. It took a Gabe Taylor three in the final seconds to lift the Pilots to the 85-82 win. Taylor finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, but was not the only Portland player to score 20+ in the game. Alec Wintering and Jazz Johnson joined Taylor in that regard. The Pilots move to 6-3 on the year and get a shot at Oregon State on Sunday.
San Francisco Upset at Home
The San Francisco Dons have been off to a hot start this season. They were 7-1 going into Friday’s action and were looking to defend their home floor against Portland State.
It looked initially as if San Francisco would hold serve as expected. The Dons held a 10-point lead at halftime and had the offense running smoothly, putting up 47 points in the first half.
It was not meant to be, however, as Portland State quickly closed the gap and tied things up with just over 12 and a half minutes to play. It would be free throw shooting that doomed the Dons down the stretch. They went just 1 for 6 from the line in the final minutes of the game after the Vikings took a one-point lead with 4:22 to play.
This will be tough loss to stomach for the Dons. While Portland State improved to 5-4 and a winning record on Friday, this has to go down as a bad loss for San Francisco. The star of the night for Portland State was Calaen Robinson, who poured in 23 points including 5 of 7 shooting from three.
Other Finals of Note
- North Dakota State avenged a loss to rival North Dakota earlier this year with an 87-70 win on Friday. This is minor consolation for the Bison fans after their five-time defending national champion football team fell in the FCS semifinals. The Bison move to 8-4 with the win.
- Samford got a road win over South Alabama by a final of 82-79. The Bulldogs have now ripped off four wins in a row and sit at 7-3. On the other hand, South Alabama has now dropped four in a row and five of their last six after opening the year 5-0.
- Arkansas State stayed hot with an 89-77 win over in-state foe Central Arkansas. The Red Wolves are now 9-2.
- Rider has somewhat quietly built a four-game winning streak after beating Drexel on Friday night. The 90-82 win takes the Broncs to 7-3.
- A basket in the final seconds from Greg Mortimer lifted South Carolina State to an upset of in-state rival Furman on the road.