The post game handshake ritual was going just fine until the Long Beach and UC Santa Barbara coaches exchanged less than friendly words, which led to chaos on the court.
After dropping its third game in a row, 82-71, the 49ers (8-13, 2-3 Big West) got into an altercation with the Gauchos at the end of the game.
Long Beach associate head coach Myke Scholl and UCSB director of basketball operations David Miller exchanged heated words, leading to players from both teams having to be held back from fighting.
The beef had been brewing since the beginning of the game, when Miller disagreed with a foul call senior Deishaun Booker received on a play. Booker responded with a “fuck you” as he walked past the UCSB bench at a media timeout in the second half.
As the game went on Miller would make pucker faces at Booker, and tell him to “have fun in Europe,” a diss that implies Booker isn’t good enough to make the NBA. During the post game handshake, Scholl confronted Miller, demanding him to never talk to any of his players again. Instantly, players from both sides stormed the court to verbally confront each other, which led to minimal shoving. UCSB guard Armond Davis and Long Beach sophomore guard Drew Cobb were the most involved in the exchange between the players.
“I’ve got to control my side and we’re not gonna do that on our end,” head coach Dan Monson said. “I’m disappointed in the way the handshake was because we obviously didn’t walk away from it. But we’re not gonna back down from people either, it’s an emotional game. Do I think it’s unprofessional for an adult to talk to a player? Yeah, I think an adult needs to be the adult in those situations.”
Booker led Long Beach with 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Sophomore guard Edon Maxhuni added 13 points and senior forward KJ Byers had 12 points and eight rebounds.
In the first half, Long Beach got off to one of its slowest starts of the season. The 49ers played with little intensity and took a while to play with fire on the defensive end. Throughout the first 12 minutes, Booker and redshirt senior guard Bryan Alberts were held scoreless. After being out for multiple games, redshirt junior guard Ron Freeman saw action in the first half to keep up with UCSB’s length and athleticism on the wing. At halftime, the 49ers trailed the Gauchos 38-31. Long Beach couldn’t contain Davis, who was scoring from all over the floor. Davis led the Gauchos with 17 points and nine rebounds at the break.
After a less than stellar first half, Long Beach came out of the halftime break with a vengeance. The 49ers opened up on a 11-0 run, sparked by consecutive steals on the defensive end and took a 42-38 lead. After the 49ers’ run, the Gauchos went on multiple runs to open their lead back up. UCSB took a a 71-61 lead with three minutes left in the game and never looked back.As a team, Long Beach shot 54 percent from the free-throw line, its worst since Nov. 16 at Mississippi State.
“It’s a hard time for our guys, they played with emotion, they played with passion but they didn’t play good enough,” Monson said.
Next up, Long Beach travels to the Big Island for a 9 p.m. Thursday game against Hawai’i.