There aren't too many happy faces around Long Beach State these days, so any encouraging news is especially welcome.
Victories are what the 49ers crave--but they'll settle for signs of improvement. Long Beach gave its fans the latter Thursday night in losing, 90-75, to Southwest Missouri State in a nonconference game in front of 2,612 at the Pyramid.
Long Beach (4-7) lost its third consecutive game, but for stretches Thursday night it played well. Still, Long Beach gave up the most points it has this season.
Southwest Missouri (12-1) shot 69.2% in second half, 62% for game.
The visitors appeared to take control early in the second half. A layup by guard Ben Kandlbinder pushed the Bears' lead to 48-38 with 17:39 still to play, prompting 49ers Coach Wayne Morgan to use a timeout.
The Bears took a 53-40 lead on a layup by Danny Moore with 14:43 left. But Long Beach, as in the first half, hung around because of its press and trap.
The 49ers went on an 8-2 spurt, finished by a layup by forward Marcus Johnson, that cut the Bears' lead to 55-51 with 12:14 remaining.
But then Johnson waved a finger in the face of forward Coleco Buie after blocking his shot and fouling him. Buie made one of two free throws, and guard Kevin Ault made both technical shots to push the Bears' lead to 60-51. The momentum swing was more than the 49ers could overcome.
Guard James Cotton led Long Beach with 25 points and guard Brandon Titus scored a career-high 21. Center Danny Moore led five Bears in double figures with 21, and Ault added 19.
It appeared like business as usual at the start for Long Beach. Southwest Missouri got several quick, easy shots against Long Beach's man-to-man and zone defenses and took a 17-4 lead with 15:31 to go in the first half on a three-pointer by guard Kandlbinder. Southwest Missouri outscored Long Beach, 16-6, over the first half's final eight minutes. Long Beach trailed, 41-34, at the half.