Press-Telegram (Long Beach)
UCI beats depleted Long Beach State
Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon announced it had dismissed junior guard Michael Carter III from its men’s basketball program.
Two hours later, LBSU tipped off against UC Irvine and hung tough for a half, but the Anteaters started the second half on a 12-2 run on their way to a 73-58 Big West Conference victory at the Walter Pyramid.
It was the regular season finale for both teams ahead of next week’s 10-team conference tournament, which will run Tuesday through Saturday at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Carter was Long Beach’s second-leading scorer this season, averaging 14.6 per game. He scored 15 points in Friday’s overtime loss to UCI.
LBSU coach Dan Monson was asked postgame why he, in conjunction with the athletic department, dismissed Carter.
“Michael Carter is a really good player, he’s a good person, I wish him the best,” Monson said. “But he’s no longer part of our program, so I think the players understand that there’s standards that we have to meet in this program and I’m going to hold them all — the leading scorer or anybody else — I’m going to hold them all to the same standard.”
The Anteaters on Saturday bolted to a 10-0 lead, were caught and briefly passed before taking a 35-30 advantage into the halftime break. Then they started quickly in the second half and before the hosts knew it, they were down 51-35.
“I give Long Beach credit for the energy that they played with after the 10-0 run to start the game,” UCI coach Russ Turner said.
Turner said he fully expected Long Beach to fight hard. But his team was up to the challenge.
“We made some key plays to get a lead before halftime and then our starting group was really excellent at the start of both halves,” he said.
Dawson Baker led UCI (16-8 overall, 10-4 Big West) with 14 points, DJ Davis scored 10 and Isaiah Lee, Collin Welp and Brad Greene scored nine points apiece. Welp had nine rebounds, and Greene blocked three shots and grabbed five rebounds.
The Anteaters finished second in the conference behind UC Santa Barbara and will enter next week’s tournament as the No. 2 seed. UCI will have a first-round bye and will face either No. 7 seed Cal State Fullerton (6-9, 5-7) or No. 10 Cal Poly (3-19, 1-15) in a quarterfinal on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Colin Slater led Long Beach (5-11, 4-8) with 15 points off the bench, going 3 for 5 from 3-point range. Romelle Mansel had 11 points and Joe Hampton scored 10. Ninth-seeded LBSU will take on No. 8 CSUN (9-12, 5-9) in a first-round game on Tuesday at 3 p.m.