Men's Basketball, Sports

Thin bench dooms LBSU in loss

Box score

ANAHEIM — A night of rest apparently helped as the Long Beach State men’s basketball team’s second-round game with No. 18 Clemson was the antithesis of its 76 Classic opener on Thursday.

Three 49ers had double-doubles, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers (5-1) had an answer for every LBSU run in an 87-79 loss at the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday.

The ‘Niners (3-3) came out at the start of the game with different intensity than they had in their 23-point loss to West Virginia on Thursday. It ended up paying off as it led to four players scoring in double figures, including T.J. Robinson with his career-high 25 points.

Robinson, Eugene Phelps and Casper Ware all collected double-doubles in the contest. Phelps crashed the boards for 10 rebounds to go with his 12 points, while Ware picked up a career-high 10 assists. Robinson led both teams with 15 rebounds.

“I’m really proud of those three,” head coach Dan Monson said. “But we just didn’t have enough help for them. Our bench isn’t deep enough and experienced enough.”

Senior Stephan Gilling pitched in with 12 points of his own, with all four of his baskets coming from 3-point range.

Larry Anderson was able to be contained as he only had one point in the contest, and was held without a field goal for a second consecutive game. The sophomore, who came into the match-up averaging 16 points per game, scored his lone point with just 44 seconds remaining in the game.

“Yesterday was a little bit understandable because of the way they played him,” Monson said. “This was an open court game; this was a Larry Anderson-type of finish game, and I think yesterday snowballed into his confidence a little bit. … Larry’s got to play his way through it.”

Clemson had six players scored in double figures in the contest, and put up 49 points in the second half. The Tigers were paced by Tanner Smith’s 17-point effort, and Demontez Stitt contributed with 16 points of his own.

Clemson opened the second half on a 7-0 run, on two of Smith’s seven makes, to take an 11-point lead less than a minute into the half. But, after a quick LBSU timeout, Robinson and Phelps began to assert themselves under the basket and accounted for the 49ers’ next 10 points.

“I’m just happy I’ve got help on the boards now,” Robinson said jokingly. “[Phelps] is really stepping up and becoming a monster. … It’s really good for my confidence and really good for [Phelps’] confidence, so I feel good playing against Texas knowing we can do something like that.”

LBSU cut the lead to one after going on a 15-5 run with 8:54 left in the second half. The Tigers were then able to string together some shots and regain an 11-point lead late in the half.

Clemson head coach, Oliver Purnell, said that he wasn’t shocked by the 49ers’ resiliency in the contest.

“We certainly recognized that they would come out with energy and determination,” Purnell said. “We had a couple of chances to get them out of the game … they kept coming back and coming back hard.”

The 49ers had plenty of opportunities to take hold of the game in the first half, but they weren’t able to take advantage of the Clemson miscues. And, LBSU had miscues of its own to deal with as both teams had 15 turnovers each.

“By the time that we realized we could play this thing, we could have been in control of the game,” Monson said. “I think early we missed six free throws and five [layups] in the first 10 minutes. If we’re not shaken from yesterday, I think we come out and take control of the game early.”

LBSU will face the loser of the Butler-UCLA consolation game in the seventh place match-up at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

 

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