The Broncos lost their second game of the year against the Long Beach State 49ers on Thanksgiving, 73-55. The game was part of the DirectTV Wooden Legacy tournament in California.
Western had trouble with consistent play for the entire forty minutes - particularly the accumulation of missed shots, fouls, and turnovers - but was still in the game at half-time, trailing only 31-30.
The Broncos' effort was in part helped by poor Long Beach free throw shooting, as the 49ers went 7 for 16 in the first twenty minutes. Despite multiple problems, the Broncos' intensity also helped them stay in the game.
The beginning of the second half went well for the Broncos, as the team built up a 47-41 lead with 11:19 left in the game. At that point though, the game took a turn for the worse for WMU.
A combination of turnovers and an inability to break the Long Beach State's defensive scheme allowed the 49ers to go on a 24-4 run between ten minutes and two minutes left in the game. During this stretch, Western looked completely out of sorts, moving the ball poorly on offense and surrendering far too many fouls on defense.
Long Beach was led by guard Mike Caffey, who scored 18 on the night with four assists and seven rebounds. Caffey had a few impressive drives over the courshim e of the game. 49er guard Tyler Lamb also had 14 on the night.
Western guard Austin Richie was top-scorer for Broncos with 13 points. Forward Connar Tava and center Drake LaMont were close behind with 12 and 11 respectively. The team, however, only shot 30.5% on the night and left 22 turnovers on the court.
There were a couple interesting notes on the game for WMU. We saw freshman Drake LaMont have his best offensive performance of his young collegiate career. It was good to see the youngster have some success after slower offensive performances earlier in the year.
Freshman center Khadim Dieng also saw his first time of the year after a hand injury kept him out of the first four games. Dieng was kept scoreless, but did play solid defense and gathered four rebounds. Dieng and LaMont may split time at center as the season moves forward. LaMont still has that starting spot on lock right now though.
The Broncos will now face the loser of the San Jose State and Washington game in this tournament. That game will be played on Friday, November 29.