LOS ANGELES – Long Beach State has played some of the toughest teams in the country in some of the toughest venues. They’ve been shorthanded on the current road show that’s had stops at Syracuse, Arizona, and Ohio State.
When they made their way to the new Pauley Pavilion on Tuesday night, they were expected to be at full strength for the first time this season.
Junior transfer from Loyola Marymount, Edgar Garibay, was cleared to participate but two others, Keala King (Arizona State) and Tony Freeland (DePaul), were not.
It ended up being another tough road loss for the 49ers (4-7) as UCLA (8-3) took full advantage, picking up an 89-70 win.
UCLA led by nine at halftime and the 49ers got as close as seven points in the second half with 9:15 left before Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad assumed control of the game.
They scored the next 12 points for the Bruins as part of a 12-2 run that pushed the lead to 17 points, 78-61.
Adams and Muhammad combined for 45 points and went 5-of-9 from three-point range.
“It seemed really important,“ Muhammad said of the stretch. “Me and Jordan do good at getting out in transition which is a great thing when I have another guy who can score just as well as I can and do things that I can do, also.”
As a team, UCLA shot 58.9 percent from the field despite facing a significant amount of zone defense from the 49ers. They were 8-of-16 from beyond the arc.
“We really shot the ball well,” Howland said. “We came in yesterday and did extra shooting and that helped us, I think.
“Getting more reps of shooting is good for our team.”
Defensively the 49ers were hurt when James Ennis and Dan Jennings picked up their fourth personal fouls in the second half just over a minute apart. That is when Adams and Muhammad started their run.
Offensively, it was Ennis and Jennings who were making the 49ers go. They combined for 47 points. Ennis showed the athleticism that makes him an NBA prospect.
Meanwhile, the Bruins had no answer for Jennings down low. The Long Beach State big man went 13-of-15 from the field and finished with a game-high 27 points and six rebounds. At 255 pounds, Jennings was just too big for the Bruins to match up against. Aside from Tony Parker, who’s 275 pounds, the Bruins don’t have another big in the rotation heavier than Kyle Anderson at 235 pounds. Parker only played five minutes on Tuesday night.
“We’re going to have to double the post a lot this year,” Howland said. “So, if you give up that kind of size, you got to scheme to it.
“We’re going to hopefully improve at that.”
Once it was all said and done, Adams and Muhammad had more help than Ennis and Jennings. Just five players scored a point for the 49ers.
The Bruins had four players score in double figures with David Wear and Larry Drew II finishing with 11 points and 14 points, respectively.
Howland was especially pleased with Drew II.
“That’s the best game of Larry Drew’s career, thus far, at UCLA,” Howland said. “He played fantastic at both ends.”
Drew II made 6-of-7 shots and finished the game with nine assists and just one turnover. Defensively, Drew II finished with two steals and held Long Beach State point guard Mike Caffey to six points on 2-of-10 shooting. Caffey had six assists but three turnovers.
Drew II said the coaching staff expressed him how important it was to slow down Caffey because of his play making ability. He accepted the challenge.
“I just took it upon myself to just go out there and try to stop him,” Drew II said.