The Long Beach State men’s basketball team handled business Saturday, defeating Cal State Los Angeles at the Walter Pyramid 76-60 in a tuneup match that had the Beach up double-digits the entire stretch.
Snapping a two-game losing skid to finish its non-conference schedule, the Beach (5-11) moved to a 21-0 record against non-Division I competition under head coach Dan Monson.
Sophomore guard Michael Carter III tallied his first career double-double with 14 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior guard Colin Slater was steady once again for the Beach with a team-high 18 points, three assists and two steals.
“It was a much-needed game for us confidence-wise,” Monson said. “We’ve got a lot to clean up and a lot to do, but I think we made a step in the right direction today.”
Four minutes into the game, CSULA’s leading scorer, senior guard Shacquille Dawkins went down early with a lower leg injury and did not return. Junior guard Michael-Isaiah Ajiboye put up 15 points and seven rebounds as one of the two Golden Eagles to score in double-figures.
Long Beach State dominated the first half with sharp 3-point shooting, solid man-to-man defense and nine assisted baskets, leading to a 42-26 advantage.
“Right now, we like the way that we’re playing,” Carter III said. “We like pushing the ball, being in the passing lanes and running.”
Crashing into sideline tables and diving on the floor for loose balls, Carter III said he wanted to get back to enjoying the game.
“All this college stuff is serious,” Carter III said, “but at the end of the day it’s basketball and that’s what I love to do. Why let it mess with my emotions and make me sad, I’m out there playing and there’s a lot of people that aren’t.”
In the second half, however, the Beach’s usual offensive woes and zone defense miscommunication became apparent once more, allowing CSULA to match the Beach’s scoring 32-32.
“We’re going to work together through it,” Slater said. “That’s what coach has been expressing to us all week, ‘Be together, play for each other every single moment.’ As long as I’m going through it with them I’m good.”
Long Beach State will begin Big West play against CSUN Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Matadome.