On Thursday, Jan. 30, the Highlanders (6-14, 2-4) traveled to Long Beach to battle against Long Beach State University (10-10, 5-2) where they lost in a double overtime thriller. The final score was 73-67, in favor of the Beach.
Long Beach jumped out to a quick start in the first five minutes of the game. They held a 10-2 lead after about six minutes of action. However, a couple of jump shots by senior guard Jannon Otto and junior guard Keilanei Cooper brought the Highlanders back into the fold. By the end of the first quarter, the score was only a two-point differential.
The second quarter was a back-and-forth battle with both teams trading buckets. A couple different Highlanders contributed baskets including Otto, senior forward Skyler Lewis and senior forward Marina Ewodo. At the half, the Beach held a four-point lead over the Highlanders.
While the game was relatively close at halftime, the Highlanders struggled to shoot from the field. Riverside shot only 31% on 5-16 from the field in the first quarter. That number plummeted to 23% in the second quarter. The Highlanders were also unable to connect from three as they missed all 10 of their three-point shots.
In the third quarter, the Highlanders ramped up the defensive intensity as they held Long Beach to only three made field goals. Meanwhile, on the other side of the court, the Highlanders began to knock down their shot attempts as they raised their field goal percentage to 45% in the third. Riverside also converted on two three-point attempts. By the end of the third, the Highlanders held a one-point lead over the Beach.
The fourth would see another back-and-forth battle with neither team taking more than a five-point lead throughout most of the quarter. However, in the final seconds of the game, the Beach had a two-point lead over the Highlanders. Otto was fouled in the final seconds of regulation by Long Beach junior guard Shanaijah Davidson. With the game on the line, Otto knocked down both free throws to send the game into the first overtime period.
The Highlanders managed to get a slight 56-53 lead over the Beach in overtime but Long Beach sophomore guard Ma’Qhi Berry tied the game for the Beach after she was fouled on a made layup attempt and converted her free throw. The first overtime period ended in a 58-58 tie.
The Beach went on a mini run in the second overtime period. Long Beach sophomore guard Justina King gave the team a scoring boost as she scored seven points in the second overtime period alone. With Ewodo fouling out, the Highlanders were unable to get the victory, losing in a close battle 73-67.
Otto finished the game with 15 points and six rebounds in 49 minutes of action. Ewodo contributed a double-double, as she scored 13 points and grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds. Lewis also finished with a double-double, adding 13 points and 10 rebounds. Cooper grabbed 12 rebounds.
As a team, the Highlanders outrebounded the Beach by a substantial margin. They finished with 62 rebounds compared to the 38 grabbed by Long Beach.
Up next, the Highlanders will travel to Northridge to battle against California State University Northridge (9-11,4-2) on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7:00 p.m.