The Long Beach City College men's basketball team kicked off its 2016-17 campaign on Thursday night by taking part in the College of the Desert Tournament in Palm Springs, CA and facing off against the Grossmont College Griffins. After holding a sizable advantage entering into the second half, the Vikings were unable to fend off the tenacious offensive pressure from the Griffins and spoiled a 17-point lead en route to a 58-69 defeat.
The Vikings jumped out to an 8-4 lead early with freshman Matt Arrivas (Sacramento, CA) kissing two points off the glass followed by a jumper from freshman Isiah Keyes (Long Beach, CA). Freshman Tyler Dees (Downey, CA) hit his first shot from the field from beyond the arc, followed by a free throw from sophomore Breamon Richard (Los Angeles, CA).
After the Griffins grabbed a one-point lead with just over 14 minutes remaining, Long Beach went on a useful 10-2 run that featured two triples from Richards and a three-pointer from Dees to grab the lead back at 20-13.
The Vikings continued to score in numerous ways which included tough drives to the rim and earning free throws. Sophomore Jalen Dotson (Long Beach, CA) and sophomore Jeremiah Blandin (Long Beach, CA) each hit two shots at the charity stripe. Blandin remained aggressive by earning two more free throws and cashing in, while Arrivas backed him with a layup. Freshman Mark Neal Jr. (Long Beach, CA) capped off the scoring in the first half with a free throw leading to a 38-24 advantage into the second half.
Keyes continued to cart a hot hand from downtown by kicking off the second half with a three-pointer which was assisted by Blandin. Dees located Arrivas for another layup three minutes into the final 20 minutes leading to a timeout and a 43-28 Viking lead.
However, the LBCC timeout deemed unbeneficial as the Griffins trimmed their deficit to three points with 13 minutes remaining in the game. Dotson snapped the bottom of the net with a jumper to bring the lead back to five, but a three pointer by Grossmont tied the game up at 45-all at the halfway mark.
A back-and-forth effort ensued, as freshman William English (Long Beach, CA) hit a three to knot the game up at 50-50. However, the Vikings could not keep their momentum going en route to a 58-69 loss.
Dees led the way on offense for the Vikings with 15 points, while Blandin hit the boards for 12 rebounds. Richard recorded 12 points, while English hauled in six rebounds and tallied four rebounds off the bench.
Despite the hot start, Long Beach shot just 27.1% from the floor and were 20-for-26 from the charity stripe.
The Vikings (0-1) continue play Friday, November 4 by facing off against West L.A. (0-1) at 1 p.m.