Long Beach pulls away from Hounds late

CNJ staff

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Junior guard James Ennis led four Long Beach State players in double figures with 15 points and the 49ers pulled away late for a 76-54 victory over Eastern New Mexico University on Monday night.

The 49ers, members of the Big West Conference, improved to 5-5 for the season but have been getting a few votes lately in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. They own a win at nationally-ranked Pittsburgh, and played competitively in losses at Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina.

“I’m very proud of our team,” ENMU coach Andrew Helton said. “We talked about ‘representing’ in the lockerroom, and I think we represented our school and our area very well tonight.”

The Greyhounds played without senior forward Curtis Wilkinson (hand injury), while senior forward Max Carrier (knee) was limited to 10 minutes early before coming out for good.

“I think if we’d have had a full group, this could’ve been a game that could’ve gone down to the last four or five minutes,” Helton said. “(Long Beach) averages 82 or 84 points, so we held them under that. We just needed more firepower.”

Senior guard Stefan Mirabal broke out of a recent shooting slump to lead all scorers with 19 points for ENMU (9-4), including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. Senior forward and Long Beach native Aaron Edwards added 14 points and seven rebounds.

Senior guard Larry Anderson chipped in 14 points for LBSU, while senior forward Eugene Phelps had 11 and senior guard Casper Ware 10.

Long Beach, outrebounded by ENMU 17-15 in the first half, finished with a 36-28 margin on the boards. The 49ers shot 51 percent from the field (30-of-58) to 44 percent (23-of-52) for the Hounds.

The Hounds, playing their third game in five nights, cut a 14-point halftime deficit to 40-33 with the first seven points of the second half, five by Edwards, as they held LBSU to one field goal over an eight-minute stretch spanning halftime. They stayed within shouting distance until late, pulling to 68-54 on Mirabal’s 3-pointer with 3:10 left before the 49ers finished the game on an 8-0 run.

ENMU hung with Long Beach for a while in the first half. The Hounds took a 4-2 lead on a basket by Carrier at the 18:20 mark, and he tied the score 6-6 on a dunk shot with 16:46 remaining.

Edwards’ 3-point play pulled the Hounds to 11-9, and Mirabal made it 15-12 with a 3-point shot at the 13:23 mark.

At that point, the 49ers went on an 8-0 run, holding the Hounds scoreless for more than four minutes. Another 3-pointer by Mirabal ended that run, but LBSU scored the next six points and kept the lead in double figures the rest of the half.

Down 38-21, the Hounds got a basket from Greg McFarland plus Mirabal’s third 3-pointer to close within 12. It was 40-26 at halftime.

Long Beach State was led in the half by senior forward Edis Dervisevic with eight points and Coffey with seven. The 49ers shot 56 percent (18-of-32) and scored 13 points off 14 ENMU turnovers.

Mirabal led all scorers at halftime with 13 points.