By Jarrod Castillo Staff Writer
LBSU MEN’S BASKETBALL LOSES AGAINST UC IRVINE IN FIRST GAME OF HOMESTAND
UC Irvine Anteaters (UCI) revive the Black and Blue Rivalry as they snap LBSU’s three-game winning streak.
Coming off of a three-game winning streak, the Beach (12-13, 6-3 Big West Conference) lost to UCI (10-14, 5-3 Big West Conference), 75-68, with sophomore guard Evan Leonard dropping 30 points for the Anteaters.
The first half of the game, summed up in one word, was frenetic. Both sides seemed to play at different tempos, trying to figure out each other’s game. This led to a nine-turnover half for UCI, which LBSU capitalized on for 10 points.
Furthermore, the first half consisted of cold stretches where neither side got their offense going, partially due to good defense from both teams. Though both sides were unable to hit shots consistently, the Beach pushed their lead to eight, 16-8, with 10:44 left in the first.
However, poor free-throw shooting in the half dashed any hopes of extending the lead to double-digits as LBSU went three-for-nine from the line, for a measly 33 percent. This allowed the Anteaters to go on a 6-2 run in the last 3:48 of the half to cut the deficit to three, 31-28.
Leonard led all scorers with 12 points on an efficient four-of-five shooting from the field, while junior guard Deishuan Booker had eight points for the Beach at the end of the half.
To start the second, LBSU went almost exclusively to senior forward Gabe Levin for offense. After being held to two points in the first half due to foul trouble, the Beach made a concerted effort to get their leading scorer going, to which Levin responded with a more aggressive, yet controlled, approach on offense.
“Just trying to play hard and play the right way,” Levin said of his second half.
As a result, Levin exploded for 17 points in the half on five-of-eight shooting, and at one point, he outscored UCI 10-9, including a banked-in three-pointer from the top of the key that left UCI head coach Russell Turner incredulous.
The Beach’s good play would soon be negated, as UCI entered the bonus with 11:40 left in the half, which allowed them to go on a 7-2 run.
To make matters worse, LBSU’s free-throw-shooting woes continued in the second half, going 11-17 from the line. Though they missed 12 free throws, Levin says he’s not worried about the poor percentage.
“We’ve been good all year at free throws,” he said. “[We’re] going to have some games where it’s off a little bit and that’s part of the season, the ups-and-downs. I’m confident that our guys will make them. I rather get that out of the way now than in the tournament.”
Down the stretch, both teams began trading punches for the lead but ultimately, it was the Anteaters who would land the last blow. A turnover by Booker led to two completed free throws by UCI, effectively ending the game 75-68 in favor of UCI.
Leonard led all scorers with 30 points on 9-12 shooting while Levin had 19 points, 17 in the second half, for the Beach in the loss.
Although a tough defeat, LBSU head coach Dan Monson considered this is a life lesson.
“Everything is not going to go perfect and it’s how you react to that is who you are as a man and your character,” he said. “We need to flush this game and it makes Saturday night a must win. I think we were ready to play today and I think we’ll be ready on Saturday, we need to play a little bit better and hopefully we will.”
LBSU Lose Overtime Thriller on Game-Winning Shot
UC Davis junior guard TJ Shorts II hits a game-winning three-point runner in double overtime to down the Beach in the game of the year.
UC Davis Aggies spoiled senior forward Gabe Levin’s career night and downed the Beach, 105-104, on a running three-point shot by junior guard TJ Shorts II with 1.9 seconds left in double overtime.
In the first half, the Beach (12-14, 6-4 Big West Conference) and Aggies (16-7, 7-2 Big West Conference) played each other evenly, as neither side could not take control of the game. It was a hard fought, albeit sloppy, first half as there were 12 combined turnovers between the two teams.
In the previous game between the two teams, junior guard Siler Schneider had 29 points to lead the Aggies to a win. It appeared that it would be the same story as after the first half, Schneider led all scorers with 10.
LBSU junior guard Bryan Alberts countered with three 3-pointers for nine points. Alberts wasn’t just shooting three-pointers, however. He consistently fought for second-chance opportunities and found open teammates for better looks.
Although UC Davis held LBSU to 36 percent shooting in the half, the Aggies continuously sent the Beach to the free-throw line, where they hit eight of their 13 attempts and took a 35-34 lead at the half.
Though LBSU went on a 13-4 run early in the second, UC Davis was unphased as they slowly crawled their way back into the game. Schneider and Shorts both scored 13 apiece and ended the second half with 22 and 23 points, respectively.
Not to be outdone, Levin decided to take matters into his own hands and single-handedly carried the offense. After scoring eight points in the first, Levin ended regulation with a hard-earned 31 points.
With an 82-80 lead towards the end of regulation, LBSU’s only job was to defend for the last 48.1 seconds. Unfortunately, Shorts was able to hit a layup to tie the game with 28.5 seconds left, effectively sending the game to overtime.
Kicking off overtime, the Aggies took an early lead with a quick 3-pointer, but Levin and LBSU countered back as he had eight of the Beach’s 11 total points in the period, including two clutch free throws to tie the game at 93.
With 26.9 seconds left on the clock, Shorts calmly dribbled the ball into the half court where he was met with a one-three-one zone defense. He then made a quick pass to Schneider, who missed a tough shot and the game went to a second overtime.
Capitalizing on an LBSU turnover to start second overtime, Schneider gave the Aggies a 95-93 lead. However, Levin would continue to make his presence known as he would score six of the Beach’s 11 points in the second overtime period.
With Levin carrying the offense for most of the game, junior guard Deishuan Booker hit a lay-up off the glass with 6.4 seconds left for his first points of the night and more importantly, put LBSU up 104-102.
After an Aggie timeout, Shorts sprinted up the court and as he reached the three-point line, he shot a one-foot runner from more than 20 feet that saw the ball swish through the net to give UC Davis a 105-104 advantage with 1.9 seconds left.
Out of timeouts, LBSU quickly inbounded to Booker, who heaved a prayer from half-court that hit the backboard as time expired. UC Davis escaped with a win against LBSU, 105-104, as four players scored in double figures led by Shorts’ 31 points.
Levin led all scorers with 45 points, which tied a school record set by Ed Ratleff 47 years ago, on Dec. 10, 1970 against St. Mary’s.
“We’re not handling it very well right now on a game-by-game basis,” Monson said of the tough loss. “But I like the character of this team. I like this team. I think we can get better and that’s all we can concentrate on doing.”
Levin also lamented the team’s lack of defense down the stretch. Even with the heartbreaking loss, Levin said he was proud of how the team battled.
“I’ve said this from day one, I love this team more than anything,” he said. “It’s gonna be bittersweet leaving at the end of the year because I love this team so much but there’s no other team, no other players I would want to play with.”
The Beach look to rebound on the third game of their four-game homestand on Feb. 10 against the Cal Poly Mustangs at 8 p.m.