Men's Basketball, Sports

Morris helps LBSU stop 4-game skid, stun Temple

The 49er men’s basketball team saw the return of its defensive intensity and swagger on Monday night.

Long Beach State held off a late rally by the Temple Owls to win, 76-71, at the Walter Pyramid.

It was a defensive battle in the first half, but both teams found their rhythm on offense in the second half. LBSU (5-6) put 49 points on the board in the second half alone.

The Owls (5-5) also had an offensive explosion by adding 48 points of their own in the second half.

One of the areas where the 49ers have struggled this season is from the free-throw line. But LBSU made the most of their opportunities in this game by going 25-of-32, and they really made them when it counted by converting on 12-of-14 free throws down the stretch.

“We have been working on it. Free-throw shooting has not been good for this team, but if we’re going to improve we have to improve in all areas,” head coach Dan Monson said. “There’s no magic … coaches don’t have a magic wand. The players have to put in the work, and I am just pleased that they did that the last 48 hours.”

After a deflating 75-61 loss on Saturday to Montana State, the 49ers played better on both sides of the ball to get the victory. Monson feels happy about the effort that the team put forth in the contest.

“I told our guys we got what we deserved on Saturday, and we got what we deserved today,” he said. “I’m very proud that they want to fix things and that they worked hard to try to fix things. I thought it was our best preparation and execution of a game plan that we have had all year.”

LBSU returned to the lineup which had led them to success early in the season, including leading scorer Donovan Morris.

Morris, who was kept out of the starting lineup against Montana State, got back on track against Temple as he led all players with 23 points and five assists. Morris came to the gym early to work on his shooting in hopes of putting the subpar play behind him, and said, he had to clear his mind to get ready for this game.

Freshman T.J. Robinson tied a career high with 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench; the 49ers led the bench scoring, 26-10.

Brian Freeman also had a big game as he brought an inside presence on defense that had yet to be seen this season. Stephan Gilling continued to have a hot hand from outside as he pitched in 15 points, including hitting three shots from beyond the arc.

LBSU saw their defense return to what it had been at the start of the season as they locked down on the Owls’ leading scorer, Dionte Christmas.

The senior forward, who was averaging 21 points per game going into the contest, went 0-of-4 from the field and was held scoreless in the first half. Christmas, who finished with 19 points, came alive in the second half and led a late Temple charge by scoring 11 points in the last two minutes.

Gilling, who was one of many defenders the 49ers threw at Christmas, knew it was going to be a big task to contain the Temple star.

“I was thinking about him all night. I tried to have energy all night, but I knew that I had to come at him every time. I can see that he’s a good player,” Gilling said.

The 49ers will have a week off until they travel to Eugene, Ore. to take on the Oregon Ducks next Monday at 7 p.m. in their last game before Big West Conference play starts.

One Comment

  1. Those needed that one. There was no doubt that the loss to Montana State was terrible. I think that after every home defeat, the guys have to run up and down the court, one for every point they lose to. This is the type of victory they will need when we get to conference play.

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