For the second consecutive year, a Long Beach Poly alum will compete in the NCAA’s Final Four. Last year it was Oregon’s Jordan Bell and this year guard Arica Carter helped lead Louisville to the Final Four with a blowout win over Oregon State in the Elite Eight.
Carter was the Dream Team Player of the Year her junior season at Poly, and had the following to say after she committed to Louisville:
“The coach didn’t have to be on them (in practice) for them to go hard. I like that environment, to know that my team is going to be disciplined. If you don’t work hard, you’re not going to get better—going somewhere where the whole team works hard, I know in my head that I’ll get better.”
Carter was a defensive stopper at Poly and has become an elite one at the NCAA level. This year’s Louisville team became the first in program history to earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and won its four games thus far in the tournament by an average of 28 points.
That trend continued on Sunday as they dismantled Oregon State 76-43 in an Elite Eight contest. That win was fueled by defense, as the Cardinals forced 17 turnovers, scoring 24 points off those opportunities. Carter had 10 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals and was named to the All-Tournament team for the Lexington Regional.
After holding a narrow halftime lead, the Cardinals won the third quarter 28-12, and had a run of three straight possessions for Oregon State that ended in turnovers, all of which led to Louisville scores. Carter had two of the steals and one of the baskets in that stretch.
“That was huge. No team is ever going to give up,” Carter told the media after the game, a net around her neck. “But we wanted to show them that we weren’t stopping no matter how they came back at us. We wanted to stop them and put our foot on their throats.”
Louisville (36-2) advances to its third-ever Final Four, and will play in Columbus, Ohio on Friday against the winner of Oregon and Notre Dame. The Cardinals had a game there earlier this year which helped serve as motivation for Carter and her teammates.
“We played on the court where the Final Four is going to be earlier this year and we all looked around and said, ‘We’ve got to get back here.’”