The Long Beach State women’s basketball team nearly mounted an amazing comeback as it cut a 16-point deficit down to three in the second half, but Big West-leading Pacific was able to hold on for the 59-53 victory Thursday evening at the Walter Pyramid.

The Tigers (22-6, 12-4 Big West) opened up a 51-35 lead with 12:33 remaining in the game before LBSU stepped up on both ends of the floor, going on a huge 15-2 run  over the next eight minutes to make it 53-50. Sophomore Lauren Spargo sparked the rally with seven-straight points, while classmate Chantel Dooley had two of the 49ers’ five steals during that stretch.

Kendall Kenyon ended a four-minute scoring drought for Pacific with a layup and Erica McKenzie followed with a 3-pointer to put the visitors back on top by eight. Long Beach State then ran out of time as the Tigers pulled out the six-point win.

“I’m very proud of our kids’ second half effort,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “To hold a team like Pacific to 25 second-half points is outstanding and we have to build on the way we finished that game for Saturday.”

LBSU (14-13, 7-8 Big West) shot 45.2 percent from the floor, but committed 25 turnovers.

Sophomore Devin Hudson led the 49ers with 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Sophomore Alex Sanchez also had 10 points and four assists. Dooley added eight points and three steals, while Spargo finished with seven points, five rebounds and two steals. Both Dooley and Spargo were sidelined for most of the first half with foul trouble.

Pacific struck first, but Sanchez responded with a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Long Beach State an early 3-2 lead. The Tigers then pulled ahead by four and the two teams traded points until the visitors went on a 14-2 run to go up, 30-16, at the 4:13 mark. 

LBSU answered with a 6-0 spurt, capped by a Sanchez layup in traffic, to close the gap to 30-22 with 1:51 on the clock. Pacific would go back on top by double figures with a pair of baskets from Kenyon and took a 34-24 advantage into the locker room.

Sanchez paced the 49ers in the first half with 10 points, while Hudson had eight rebounds. The 49ers shot 53.8 percent from the field, but only had 13 attempts (7-for-13), while Pacific was 13-of-36 (36.1 percent).

Pacific finished the game shooting 41.1 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range. Ashley Wakefield scored a team-high 15 points, while Kenyon chipped in 12 points.

Long Beach State returns to the Walter Pyramid for its final home game on Saturday, March 2, when it entertains UC Davis at 2 p.m. The 49ers will honor their only senior, Mary Ochiltree, following the game.

JJ has covered Long Beach sports for more than a decade. He's written for multiple newspapers in Southern California, produced professional event videos and won numerous awards for his writing and community service.

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