The Long Beach State 49ers found the win column Wednesday night for the first the first time in over two weeks, as they defeated the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 82-71 at the Walter Pyramid.
The win marked the 49ers’ third on the season, as they improved to 3-7 on the year. Attribution for the victory should go no further than the play of their two-star upperclassmen. Those two would be Seniors Deishuan Booker and Temidayo Yussuf.
Booker led all scorers on the evening with 21 points, as he continues to lead Long Beach State in scoring on the season. His volatile playmaking was also on display as he led the team with four assists, but seven turnovers as well.
Yussuf followed up on his strong 28-point performance against San Diego with a double-double. He had 19 points and 13 rebounds, playing a large interior role for the 49ers.
Edon Maxhuni also turned in his second straight encouraging performance with another double-digit scoring performance off the bench. He contributed 11 points to lead all bench scorers.
However, the biggest factor on the evening for the 49ers was the offensive glass. The team out-rebounded the Thunderbirds 51-35, with 20 total offensive rebounds. Long Beach State also dominated the second chance point category by a 23-8 difference.
Long Beach State was also stifling on the defensive end yet again, their stronger side. They held Southern Utah to 37.7 percent shooting coupled with 19 turnovers. The Thunderbirds also struggled from behind the arc shooting 7-24 at 29.2 percent.
Southern Utah’s Sophomore forward Andre Adams led the team in scoring with 19 points on 7-9 shooting. He filled the stat sheet elsewhere with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks also accredited to his name.
Sophomore Cameron Oluyitan and Junior Jacob Calloway chipped in with 14 and 12 points respectively.
With little to show for in their record, the 49ers have been trending upwards. Close losses against Oregon State, USC, and San Diego proved the team was headed in the right direction. Tonight, they were able to get over the hump and seal the deal.
The season has started off slow, but with conference play still a month away, the 49ers have a chance to iron things out still.
With Deishuan Booker and Temidayo Yussuf providing a one-two punch, Long Beach State is still awaiting a third reliable scorer to emerge. Guards Bryan Alberts, Ron Freeman, and Edon Maxhuni have all showed promise, but nothing to be interpreted as reliability.
If one of these three guards or a player not mentioned can step up for the 49ers, their fortunes may turn around. These close losses will become more wins like tonight, and the Big West Conference just may be on notice going forward.