Long Beach, CA – Coming off an impressive win against a solid Big East team in Xavier, the Long Beach State 49ers defeated the Nevada Wolfpack 68-57 in what was their final home game of 2014. 49ers Head Coach Dan Monson added to his school record for all-time wins by a men’s basketball head coach, collecting win number 124 after surpassing Hall of Famer Jerry Tarkanian’s former school record in their previous game against Xavier.
The game got off to a very sluggish start as both teams struggled to connect on their outside shots. Nevada ended the 1st half shooting only 4-of-21 (19%), and went 0-of-7 from behind the arc. As for Long Beach, their shooting numbers were not much better, as they only connected on 9-of-32 (28.1%) from the field in the 1st half. The only bright spot offensively for the 49ers was the continued strong play by point guard Mike Caffey. With the ability to utilize a combo of dribble drives with either hand as well as the change of direction dribble, Caffey creates headaches for opposing guards whenever he’s on the floor. His strong all-around 1st half play led the 49ers on a 14-2 run to end the half with a 31-22 lead. Caffey finished the game with an impressive 17 points, five assists, five rebounds and four steals.
The 2nd half of play proved to be a much more competitive game, as Nevada began to connect on a higher percentage of shots from the floor. Led by Junior guard Marqueze Coleman, the Wolfpack cut the lead to 41-40 with 12:12 left in the game. Coleman, a Los Angeles native, used his quickness to get by defenders on drives into the paint, and also utilized his taller frame and lengthy arms to get a high percentage shot off once in the lane. But the Long Beach defense was swarming Wednesday night, double teaming the Wolfpack’s guards at every opportunity, ultimately forcing Nevada into 19 turnovers. This strong defensive effort by Long Beach helped them overcome a poor shooting night from the field.
Long Beach State guard Tyler Lamb hit some big 3-point shots, connecting on 3-of-5 form behind the arc and providing the 49ers with a much needed second scorer in support of Caffey. Lamb has now posted up back-to-back strong offensive games as he seems to be getting his game back into the groove he was in last year when he averaged 15.4 ppg. With Caffey’s ability to cut through defenders and willingness to share the ball, Lamb will be in position all year to be the recipient of wide open catch-and-shoot opportunities. Although he is a tad slow on his release, Lamb puts a very high arc on his shot allowing the 49er big men to get into position for a possible offensive rebound. This was the case Wednesday night as Long Beach Freshman forward Temidayo Yussuf, pulled in 10 rebounds (six offensive) to go along with his 11 points and three blocked shots.
After going undefeated in their first three games at home, Long Beach State now faces its most stern test of the season, as they embark on a six-game road trip beginning with Stephen F. Austin on Friday. The remaining five opponents were NCAA Tournament teams last year, and three of the games will be matchups against currently top-15 ranked opponents – San Diego St., Texas and Louisville. As for the Wolfpack, they now head home for two games to face California and Cal St. Fullerton, before ending their four game stretch of California based opponents with the Pacific Tigers in Stockton, CA on December 18th.
Quick Tid-bit: With his four steals Wednesday against Nevada, Mike Caffey continues to climb the ladder of the Long Beach State record book, as he now ranks in the top-10 in assists, steals and 3-point field goals made. Looking to add to his legacy, Caffey is only 148 points away from cracking the top-10 category in all-time points at Long Beach St.
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