Men's Basketball, Men's Sports, Sports

LBSU impresses in conference opener

Scoring came easy for the Long Beach State men’s basketball team, but its defense down the stretch is what set the 49ers apart in a 89-81 win against Hawai’i Thursday.

LBSU (7-10,1-0 Big West) had a hot shooting night, making 63.3 percent of its shots from the field which led to Long Beach’s first Big West conference victory.

Bryan Alberts, who has been hitting a scorching 41.3 percent from three all year, sat out with a knee injury which led the 49ers to find different scoring options. Long Beach was undermanned, but a career night from forward Barry Ogalue kept the team afloat.

“I was just in a flow tonight, and I was able to move well without the ball,” Ogalue said. “All I did was play my game and stay active.”

It was near perfect game for the senior against Hawai’i (9-5, 0-1 Big West) shooting 9-for-10 from the field to rack up 21 points while also adding two assists and two steals.

“I was going to go small to start the game, but Barry went 8-of-9 last year against Hawai’i in the [Big West] tournament,” head coach Dan Monson said. “It was a gut decision, but it gave us another paint presence and it worked out.”

It was on offensive showcase for the 49ers, with junior guard Deishuan Booker, junior forward Temidayo Yussuf and senior forward Gabe Levin each scoring 18 points in the game.

“We were able to get whatever we wanted tonight,” Booker said. “It was fun.”

Yussuf and Levin shared the floor together for the first time in conference play, but dominated in the both the high and low post.

Monson was not completely satisfied with the team giving up 81 points, but he attributed the team’s disruptive defense as the key factor in taking down Hawai’i. The 49ers had 23 points off of turnovers and 14 on the fast break. Long Beach added 10 steals and outrebounded the best rebounding team in the Big West 34-21.

“Offense can win you games, but defense is what is really going to take us to the next level,” Monson said. “We did a good job in controlling the game on both ends of the floor.”

LBSU finishes the first week of conference play on the road with the first part of the Black and Blue rivalry at 7 p.m. Saturday against UC Irvine.

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