Dec. 19, 2016
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Long Beach State was led by three double-figure scorers in Madison Montgomery, Gigi Hascheff and Raven Benton on Monday afternoon as the Beach defeated No. 22 South Florida, 73-68, handing the Bulls their first loss of the year. The victory also marked the 49ers' first win over a ranked opponent in two years.
With the win the Beach improves to 8-4 on the year, while the Bulls drop to 8-1.
"I am so proud of this team," Long Beach State head coach Jody Wynn said. "First of all, South Florida is an extremely well-coached and talented basketball team. (Kitija) Laksa is one of the best basketball players we've ever faced; she is very, very talented. Maria Jespersen did a fantastic job. I think she nearly had a double-double at halftime. USF is a great team that we competed against this afternoon.
"I am so proud of our team. We came together before the game started and talked about this team, this year, having a signature win and we got it today. I'm just so proud of the focus we had from start to finish for 40 minutes."
The Beach turned in their highest shooting percentage of the year as they went 26-for-55 from the field to shoot 47.3 percent in the game. Long Beach State's offense was on point throughout as they received a 19-point performance from Montgomery who led all scorers. Montgomery led a trio of 49ers in double-figures as Hascheff and Benton each recorded 15 points.
"Madison Montgomery was absolutely amazing today," Wynn said of her senior forward." She was just a beautiful performer. Couple (her performance) with Gigi (Hascheff) knocking down some three balls and Raven (Benton) coming in and getting herself to the free throw line and doing somethings, and Martina (McCowan) and Cece (Wilson) on defense…I'm just really proud of the total team effort we had today and 40 minutes of focus. These girls were so determined to get our program another signature win and I couldn't be more proud."
Montgomery got things going as she tallied nine points in the first quarter to keep the Beach in the game. In the first 10 minutes of action, LBSU and USF battled through a pair of ties, but the Bulls held a three-point lead at the end of the frame.
Long Beach State continued its stout effort on the court in the second quarter as they played nationally-ranked USF to a 15-15 tie as the Bulls took a 36-33 lead into the locker room at halftime.
At the end of the first half, both teams were shooting an identical 43.3 percent (13-for-30) from the field as the Beach trailed by three at the break. After 20 minutes of action, Montgomery was already in double-figures with a team-leading 11 points.
Following the break in action, the Beach came back on fire as they shot 57.1 percent (8-for-14) from the field as their defense held the Bulls to just 36.4 percent shooting (4-for-11). The Long Beach State defense was solid as they forced seven turnovers in the frame and swiped a pair of steals to outscore USF 22-14 and take a 55-50 lead into the final quarter of the game.
The Beach's five-point lead was quickly erased as the Bulls evened the score at 59-59. However, a layup by Benton at the six-minute mark gave LBSU a 61-59 lead that it would not relinquish. In the final four-minutes of action, the 49ers led by as many as seven points (66-59) before the Bulls would cut their lead down to two (70-68) with just 16 seconds remaining in the game.
Jewelyn Sawyer sunk the back-end of a pair of free throws to extend the Beach's lead to three, before Montgomery sealed the victory with a pair of made free throws with just three ticks left on the clock.
The Beach's 73-68 victory over No. 22 USF marks the first time since Dec. 13, 2014 that Long Beach State has defeated a ranked opponent. Two years ago, LBSU edged then-No. 18 Cal, 58-56, in overtime at the Walter Pyramid.
Against USF, Long Beach State's defense was on point once again as it forced 17 turnovers, while collecting seven steals, and posting two blocks. The Beach's offense capitalized as they tallied 21 points off of turnovers.
With the victory, Long Beach State moves into the winner's bracket at the Play4Kay Shootout and will take on the winner of the Oklahoma State and Santa Clara game on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 5:30 p.m., at T-Mobile Arena.