TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arizona Wildcats (2-4) returned home from a four-game road trip to face Long Beach State (1-5) on Friday night, but the 49ers came out victorious on Tuesday night by a score of 80-72.
"I think Long Beach State just came out on fire,” head coach Adia Barnes said. “They usually don’t shoot the ball well from the three and they usually don’t rebound well, but they seemed to do both those things well tonight. We didn’t bounce back; they punched us in the face early and we didn’t really have an answer.”
JaLea Bennett scored a career-high 24 points tonight on 9-15 shooting while adding in four rebounds and three steals. That’s the second 20-point scoring game for any Wildcat in this short season and Bennett’s second career 20-point game.
“The last couple games we have been digging ourselves in holes,” Bennett said. “The biggest thing is that I try and go to the locker room and let them know there is a lot of basketball to be played. I go in there, I talk to them, I motivate them and they come out and give it their all. We came out wanting to play better.”
Long Beach State got off to a good start in the first quarter as they got out to a 20-10 lead on the back of four three-pointers. The 49ers continued that success with 24 more points in the second quarter while allowing 16 Arizona points, giving them an 18-point lead going into halftime. Shanaijah Davison scored 12 first-half points to lead the way.
The Wildcats made four threes in the third quarter, but Beach was able to maintain a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Arizona made a nice run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to eight, but the 49ers were able to hold Arizona off for their first victory of the season. Davison finished the game with 20 points for the 49ers.