Sports, Women's Basketball

Women secure first-round bye

Box score

RIVERSIDE — The Long Beach State women’s basketball team spoiled UC Riverside’s chance at capturing a share of the Big West Conference regular season title and also earned itself a first-round bye in this week’s conference tournament.

LBSU (13-16, 9-7 Big West) played a complete game on Saturday, in a 70-61 victory over UCR at the Student Recreation Center in front of 419 spectators.

With the victory, the 49ers gained the No. 4 seed and will play in the second quarterfinal game on Thursday against the highest remaining seed from Wednesday’s first round games.

The Beach led by 13 points at the half, but UCR was able to pull within one, 59-58, with 3:58 remaining.

On the 49ers’ next two possessions, senior forward Ally Wade connected on back-to-back 3-pointers.

“At the end there, I challenged Ally Wade,” 49er head coach Jody Wynn said. “I said ‘how about it Ally, we got a game right here today’ and she stepped up.”

Rheya Neabors immediately answered with a 3 for UCR, cutting the lead to 65-61 with just over two minutes left to play.

After a UCR turnover, senior guard Karina Figueroa scored a bucket and drew a foul. She made the free throw to complete the three-point play.

Lauren Sims was fouled with less than a minute on the game clock, and made both foul shots to seal the win for the 49ers.

“What really won it for us was our passion and our heart,” Sims said following the game.

Sims said Wynn told the team before the game that they could beat UCR, if they played with both those components.

“That’s what we did and it worked out,” Sims said. “We knew we were going to win that game.”

In the first half, The Beach sank 14-of-27 (51.9 percent) of its field goals, in addition to 8-of-13 from 3-point range.

LBSU’s defense limited UCR to an 8-for-25 effort (32 percent) from the floor in the opening period, including a 2-for-11 (18.2 percent) showing from 3-point land.

The ‘Niners got off to a fast start, as they opened the contest with three consecutive 3s to take an early 9-2 lead.

“When the kids feel confident in what they’re doing, we play harder,” Wynn said. “It was a wonderful effort on all accounts. Lauren Sims and Melanie Lisnock, I’ll tell you what, they stepped up big time for us to get us going in that first half.”

Long Beach had a trio of players in double figures, led by Lisnock’s game-high 21 points. The junior had a dazzling 5-of-7 performance from beyond the arc.

Figueroa contributed 17 points, pulled down a team-high six rebounds and handed out seven assists. Sims added 16, including four 3-pointers.

Lisnock said she was sore and that her shot was off during warm-ups.

“During the game, I didn’t really think about my shot and I think that helped me a lot,” Lisnock said. “I was just glad I could help the team out with making those big shots.”


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