Men's Basketball, Sports

Change to starting 5 can’t stop losing streak

Turnovers hindered the Long Beach State men’s basketball team Saturday afternoon at the Walter Pyramid.

The 49ers couldn’t stave off the Montana State offense and fell, 75-61.

A season-high 19 giveaways earned the 49ers (4-6) their first loss of the year on the Walter Pyramid floor. Many of the turnovers came when the Bobcats (5-4) were not putting pressure on the ball. Those types of mental mistakes have plagued LBSU during their four-game losing streak, and head coach Dan Monson thinks this may be hurting the team in other areas, as well.

“I think it started as a mental thing, but unfortunately it has led to physical issues. We didn’t play good mentally or physically tonight,” Monson said.

The other big story of the game was the benching of the 49ers’ leading scorer Donovan Morris, who didn’t enter the game until the 14:43 mark of the first half. Monson has tried different line-ups the past few games, but this was the first time that Morris has not started since early last season.

Morris, who has been Big West Conference Player of the Week twice this season, felt Monson’s decision to take him out of the starting five was justified.

“I didn’t deserve to start today. The way I played today … I have been playing like that for the last two weeks, so it didn’t bother me,” Morris said.

Morris, who played 24 minutes, finished with just six points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field, and he also had a game-high four turnovers. Morris shot 2-of-15, which included going 0-of-8 from 3-point range, in the 49ers’ 79-55 loss to Syracuse on Dec. 13. This may have contributed to the senior being left out of the starting five on Saturday.

“We were trying to win this game, and it’s not about what somebody has done in the past. I started who I thought was going to give us the best start,” Monson said of his decision to not start Morris.

Freshman guard Larry Anderson led the way in his third straight start with 13 points for LBSU; it was Anderson’s third time scoring in double figures this season. Freshman point guard Casper Ware added 11 points to go with five assists. Stephen Gilling continues to shoot the ball well this season; he had 12 points with all four of his makes coming from behind the arc.

MSU had five players score in double figures, with guard Will Bynum scoring a game-high 15 points. MSU center Cody Anderson, who has scored a combined seven points all season, had 11 points which included being perfect (3-of-3) from 3-point range.

The ‘Niners got outrebounded, 44-29, and they got outworked on the offensive glass, 17-9.

After taking an early 6-4 lead to start the game, the 49ers trailed the rest of the way. At one point in the second half, LBSU was down by 21 points.

With only two games left before Big West Conference play is set to begin, the 49ers might be headed in the wrong direction.

“We were a better team a month ago than we are now. Everything we are trying right now seems to be making things worse,” Monson said.

LBSU, which returned from a week-long layoff, has a quick turnaround with a game against Temple on Monday night at the Walter Pyramid. Tip-off is set for 6:05 p.m.

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