Feb. 18, 2017
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LONG BEACH -- Senior guard Raven Benton came off the bench and poured in a season-high 23 points to help lead Long Beach State to a 59-45 victory over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid.
Benton's 20-point performance was her first of the year and 13th such game of her career. She was on fire offensively, shooting 80 percent (8-for-10) from the field, while connecting on 1-of-3 from beyond the arc and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Long Beach State's (18-9, 9-3 BWC) offense fed off of the defensive effort as the Beach limited UC Santa Barbara (12-14, 7-6 BWC) to single digits in all quarters except the third.
"Our defense was outstanding," Long Beach State head coach Jody Wynn said. "We had 27 points off of turnovers (at halftime) that were created. It gave us an opportunity to play relaxed basketball on the offensive end and then in the second half, our defense wasn't as solid. We fouled and we turned the ball over offensively. We didn't score the ball well at all in the second half. The fourth quarter just wasn't good offensively -- for either team, really.
"In the third quarter, they got a lot of layups from our turnovers. We over-dribbled too much and their defense ignited their offense. I think we turned the ball over way too much offensively, in the fourth quarter in particular, and it just led to point blank layups."
The Beach got off to a hot start as Jessica Gertz drained a three to get the game started and give LBSU a 3-0 advantage and a lead it would never surrender. Long Beach State had a strong first quarter as the 49ers shot 47.1 percent (8-for-17) from the field and did not allow the Gauchos to connect on a three-pointer as they led 20-9 going into the second.
The second quarter saw an even stronger defensive performance as the Beach held the Gauchos to just six points in the frame. By halftime, Long Beach State owned a 36-15 advantage over UC Santa Barbara and had not allowed the Gauchos to connect on a three. Additionally, LBSU forced UCSB to turn the ball over 18 times and tallied 27 points off of turnovers.
The break in action cooled the 49ers' defense which allowed the Gauchos to shoot 57.1 percent (8-for-14) in the third quarter and outscore the Beach 21-16 in the frame. The third quarter was the highlight for UCSB as they cut Long Beach State's one-time 24-point lead (39-15) down to 16 (52-26) at the end of the quarter.
Long Beach State's defense got its groove back in the fourth quarter as the Beach held the Gauchos to just 21.4 percent (3-for-14) shooting from the field. However, while the 49ers' defense was on-point, the offense struggled to produce as they shot 27.3 percent (3-for-11) and turned the ball over 10 times in the frame.
UCSB was able to whittle Long Beach State's lead down to 13 (58-45) with just over two minutes remaining in the game, but the Beach held the Gauchos scoreless for the final 2:14 of the contest as they went on to win, 59-45.
"Raven Benton played like a senior should play," Wynn said. "She was on a mission in that first half. We started out the game with Jess Gertz making that three and just giving us confidence and that certainly helps. I think that we got better, but I don't like the way we ended the game. I think we did a solid job on Drew Edelman. I think we did a good job on their guards, for the most part, and not allowing as many help and recover situations as we did the first time against Santa Barbara."
In addition to Benton's offensive performance, the Beach also got a solid effort from senior point guard Anna Kim who tallied 11 points in the game, marking her third-straight double-figure output. Kim also led the team with six assists, while adding three rebounds and one steal.
Gertz finished the game with six points, while Jewelyn Sawyer led on boards with half a dozen rebounds.
UC Santa Barbara was led by Edelman's 16 points and eight rebounds. Drea Tolder also reached double-figures with 10 points in the game, however, she also turned the ball over 10 times leading to a total of 26 turnovers by the Gauchos.
Long Beach State collected 10 steals on the day and accumulated 35 points off of turnovers as well as 32 bench points -- with all but nine coming from Benton.
The Beach travel to UC Riverside on Thursday, Feb. 23 for a 7 p.m. contest, before hosting UC Irvine on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m.