LBSU Athletics/John Fajardo

The Beach Upend the Menlo College Oaks

By Jarrod Castillo, Athletics Editor

As guard Jared Wall stood at the free-throw line for Menlo College (1-3) in the second half, over 3,800 spectators rose to their feet in an attempt to throw Wall off. It worked, as Wall bricked both free throws, much to the delight of the Beach fans.

Although Long Beach State (1-1) got the 78-57 win over the Oaks, it looked like Menlo College could upset the Beach and steal a game at the Walter Pyramid.

Make no mistake about it, the lingering effects of playing back-to-back games showed as Long Beach State started off the first half very sluggishly. For instance, the Beach had more turnovers (14) than field goals (7) and shot an abysmal 32 percent (7-22) from the field, including 12 percent (1-8) on 3-point attempts.

“I don’t think we handled the back-to-back very well today,” head coach Dan Monson said. “I didn’t think we came out with the energy we did last night to start.”

Menlo struggled mightily as well, shooting 39 percent (11-28) with 10 turnovers in a very sloppy first half.

If it weren’t for senior guard Deishuan Booker, things would’ve been very different for the Beach. Following his career-night at UCLA the night before, Booker was aggressive on the offensive end, going 11-of-12 from the free-throw line for 15 points in the first half to lead all scorers.

“The rim was a lot more available,” Booker said about his aggressiveness and the size difference. “So I wanted to attack that; that was their weak spot.”

Despite woeful shooting from both sides, Long Beach State led Menlo College, 28-25, at the end of the first half.

Coming out of the break, the Beach came out with more energy as they forced Menlo to commit 12 more turnovers in the second half to finish with 22 for the game. This renewed focus on defense was evident as senior forward Mason Riggins skied to meet freshman forward Corey Le’aupepe and swatted his shot out of bounds.

Senior guard Deishuan Booker (15) drives on Menlo forward John Paine (22) on Nov. 10. (LBSU Athletics/John Fajardo)

The defensive intensity carried over to the offensive end as the team become more energized. In the first half, the offense stagnated frequently, leading them to pass the ball off to Booker to create on offense.

However, in the second half, the ball whizzed around the court, leading to the Beach having nine assists after only having had five in the first half, finishing with 14.

“The rim was a lot more available,” Booker said about his aggressiveness and the size difference. “So I wanted to attack that; that was their weak spot.”

Perhaps the most noticeable contributions for the Beach came from sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni and junior guard Jordan Griffin. After being held to three and zero points, both players exploded for 15 and 12, respectively, in the second half.

In the run that ultimately sealed the game for Long Beach State, Griffin came off the bench and scored 10 points in quick succession, at one point outscoring Menlo College by himself. That scoring burst pushed the Beach’s lead to more than 20 with about seven minutes to put the nail in the coffin in their 78-57 win over Menlo College.

“I think we need to practice more, being ready to play those games and just come ready,” Maxhuni said about the team’s perceived playing-down to their opponents.

While the Beach had four players score in double-figures, Booker led the way with 19 points but had seven turnovers. On the other hand, junior forward John Paine had 21 points to lead all scorers and pulled down five rebounds.

Long Beach State’s next home game is on Nov. 25 against Oregon State at 2 p.m.