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Basketball Long Beach State

Long Beach State Loses Regular Season Finale, Top Player On Saturday

Everything was a little off for Long Beach State men’s basketball on Saturday, and unfortunately that’s apropos for this unorthodox season.

After having their campaign paused three times over the last three months, there weren’t any LBSU Senior Night activities before or after the last game of the regular season at Walter Pyramid. The Beach then proceeded to lose to UC Irvine 73-58 without the services of top shooting guard Michael Carter III.

Carter III, who was suspended for off-court issues last season, is just another Beach student-athlete sat down by Monson. He has “indefinitely suspended” or “dismissed” a student-athlete in all but one season since reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2012. The vast majority of those discipline cases were transfers.

When asked why he was dismissed from the team hours before the game, Monson said, “Carter is a good player, a good person, and I wish him the best, but he’s not a part of our program.”

Multiple sources told The562.org off the record that a postgame verbal altercation between Carter III and the referees after Friday’s overtime loss to UCI forced Monson to dismiss him. Carter III was averaging 14.6 points and 32 minutes a game.

“I think the players understand that there’s standards we have to meet in this program, even if you’re a top scorer, and I’m going to hold all of them to the same standard,” Monson said.

The lopsided loss Saturday means LBSU will be the No. 9 seed for the Big West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas this week. The Beach (5-11, 4-8) will face No. 8 Cal State Northridge in the first round on Tuesday.

UC Irvine (16-8, 10-4) went on a 10-0 run to start the game, and after LBSU closed the gap to 35-30 at halftime, the Anteaters opened the second half with a 9-2 run that gave them an insurmountable lead. The Beach could not cut it to single digits for the rest of the night.

LBSU senior Colin Slater came off the beach and made his first two 3-point attempts to get the Beach back into the game in the middle of the first half.

“I came to the gym an hour or two early and my shot felt good,” Slater said. “I felt like any play could be my last one, so I just wanted to try and help our team anyway I could.”

“With (Carter III) not here anymore we need (Slater) and he got us in the flow today and gave us a huge lift,” Monson said. “But (UCI) came back and pressed him and turned his water off a little bit. We need him to get that confidence back.”

LBSU forward Roselle Mansel added 11 points and nine rebounds while Joe Hampton chipped in 10 points.
UCI edged LBSU in overtime on Friday night.

“We just didn’t have the energy and the fight we had yesterday and that’s my biggest concern,” Monson said. “All season Saturday has been an issue to have that same energy when we’re not really in game shape. But we can’t use that as an excuse because we have to win four games in five days coming up.”

The first-round contest against CSUN on Tuesday is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN 3. The No. 9 seed for LBSU is the lowest in over a decade.

“I think the state of the program is fine in the fact that this COVID year has been difficult for these kids and I’m really proud of their perseverance,” Monson said. “But today is our second loss by more than 3 points in (BWC) and I know we’ve had the least amount of practices than anyone in the league. Is it disappointing? Yeah. It certainly was, and I don’t think you can evaluate the state of the program by those 12 games this year. I think we have some really good players. We might lose on Tuesday but I wouldn’t count us out of any game played next week. My expectations is to win it and go to the NCAA tournament. I told my guys to pack for two weeks.”

VIDEO: Long Beach State vs. UC Irvine, NCAA Basketball

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.