Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

LBSU close out non-conference schedule on high note

The Long Beach State men’s basketball team closed its non-conference schedule with a win, but it may have cost the hopes of playing in March.

Before the game, senior forward Gabe Levin tweaked his knee in warmups. He was a late scratch in the starting lineup and did not play. Last season, Levin had season-ending surgery to repair a fracture in his knee. Junior guard Deishuan Booker also did not play due to a groin injury.

“He [Levin] kinda tweaked it in warmups today,” head coach Dan Monson said. “We thought he was going today but during warmups something went wrong so we shut him down.”

But without Levin, Long Beach beat Texas A&M International 77-59 on Saturday. Junior forward Temidayo Yussuf scored 15 points to lead all scorers. Xabier Gomez led the Dustdevils with 12 points.

“I think any five we put out as long as we defend, play hard and play together, anything is possible,” Yussuf said. “Especially with the start of league being next week, so we needed some good momentum going into that.”

The Dustdevils remain 7-7 while the 49ers improved to 6-10, with a 3-2 mark at home.

Freshman guard Jordan Roberts scored 10 points off the bench for Long Beach, making three of seven shots. His senior teammate Barry Ogalue was inserted into the lineup for Levin, and scored 13 points on six of 11 shooting.

With a nine-point lead going into the second half, the 49ers struggled in the opening minutes against the Dustdevils. But their lead was down to five, in part due to an Jeremy Wright three-pointer and layup. However, the Long Beach defense took a step forward, as the team had eight blocks in the game. Junior forward KJ Byers had two blocks and one steal on the night.

“We have one scholarships for an x-factor and KJ [Byers] was that one,” Monson said. “He could defend, he could affect the game without scoring and he has proven that over this preseason”

Long Beach finished the month of December 3-5 and will start Big West Conference play on Jan. 4. The 49ers hosts Hawai’i at the Walter Pyramid as they look to prove the conference preseason polls after being picked fourth in the standings.

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