While men’s basketball player’s suited up for their last regular season game against UCI, the story of the night was off the court. Or rather, off the team entirely.
Hours before the team’s home finale, athletics and head coach Dan Monson announced the dismissal of junior guard, Michael Carter III, leaving a huge question mark over the team. Carter III averaged 32 minutes a game and 14.6 points per game, second on the team overall.
Missing a valuable piece, Long Beach (5-11, 4-8 Big West) took the court and immediately allowed 10 straight points from UCI (16-8, 10-4 Big West). Just one night after a nail-biting contest, which sent the teams into overtime, it was clear a different team was taking the floor. The Beach fell 73-58.
“We just didn’t have the energy and the fight we had yesterday and that’s my biggest concern,” Monson said in a post-game interview. “It’s always been an issue because we’re really not in game shape so all season Saturday has been an issue to have that same energy.”
Long Beach turned to its bench for a fighting chance, and found it in senior guard Colin Slater. The guard hit back-to-back threes to snap UCI’s streak and ended the game with 15 points, the most on the team. It was the first time all season a bench player led in points for the Beach.
“I just felt like any play could be my last one,” Slater said post-game. “I just wanted to give my best shot and help the team any way I could.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Long Beach, as UCI pulled away once again in the second half, forcing a timeout at 44-32. The Anteaters didn’t let up for the remainder of the game, taking advantage of turnovers and a lack of defense from Long Beach.
Monson gave little reason for Carter’s dismissal when asked about it post-game.
“Michael Carter is a really good player, he’s a really good person. I wish him the best, but he’s no longer part of our program,” Monson said. “The players understand that there’s standards we have to meet in this program, and whether it’s the leading scorer or anyone else, I’m going to hold them all to the same standards.”
Long Beach will enter the Big West tournament at No. 9 and will face No. 8 seed CSUN in a 3 p.m. contest Mar. 9. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.