Anaheim, Calif., November 28, 2019 – Down by 17 points in the second half, Long Beach State and its band of youngsters might have been a little stunned by Providence in the opening game of the Wooden Legacy at the Anaheim Arena.
At the, the stunned look was on the other side of the court after Michael Carter III nailed three free throws with 3 seconds left to give the Beach a 66-65 win over the Friars.
“I tell the all the time my problem is that I trust them more than they trust themselves,” Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. “Just getting them to learn to trust each other, that’s why these tournaments are so great.”
The comeback tied for the second-best rally in the 13 years of the tournament. Washington State came back from 20 points down to defeat St, Joseph’s in 2017.
Long Beach (3-4) chipped away but still trailed by 10 after a jumper by Providence’s Alpha Diallo with 7 minutes left. It was the last field goal of the game for the Friars (4-3).
The Beach pulled within 64-63 when both teams argued officials’ calls on key plays.
With 49 seconds left, the Beach’s Drew Cobb was called for a flop. Since it was the team’s second called flop of the day, Wake Forest was awarded a technical foul free throw, which was converted by Luwane Pipkins to give the Friars a 65-63 lead.
With 17 seconds left, Cobb rebounded a missed free throw and fed the ball to Carter, who dribbled on the right wing and pulled up for a 3-point try. It was ruled that Carter was fouled by Emmitt Holt with three seconds left, though the Providence bench argued that Carter had kicked his leg out during his release.
Carter made the first free throw to pull the Beach within a point. After a timeout, Carter swished his next two free throws to provide Long Beach with the winning margin.
“They could have certainly not called the foul on the 3 that Michael had with 3 seconds left,” Monson said. “It all evens out if you play hard and keep playing.”
Providence coach Ed Cooley was irate at the call but refused to refer to it afterward.
“It’s not a matter of a call that cost us the game, it was our lack of execution that did,” Cooley said. “So it was nothing about those officials.”
Providence didn’t help its cause down the stretch; the Friars had no field goals in the final seven minutes of the game. Until the final score, the last lead Long Beach State held was 4-3.
Carter led all scorers with 23 points, making 6 of 10 from the field and hitting 9 of 10 at the free-throw line. Chance Hunter added 14 and Joshua Morgan had 12 points and nine rebounds for Long Beach State, which takes on Wake Forest Friday in the semifinals.
Pipkins led Providence with 12 points and Diallo had 11 points and nine rebounds. The Friars will take on Charleston in the next round.
Wake Forest 65, Charleston 56 – Forward Olivier Sarr had 14 points and 14 rebounds off the bench and the Demon Deacons (4-2) advanced to the semifinals despite making only 1 of 8 field goals down the stretch.
Isaiah Mucius also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for Wake Forest, which had a 12-rebound advantage over the Cougars (3-3). It was the eighth time teammates have had a double-double in the same game.
The Demon Deacons survived despite shooting only 35.8 percent. They had won only three of their previous 42 games when shooting that low.
“Throughout the course of the game we were 6-for-21 from the 3-point line. We had some opportunities,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “For us, we want to go out and try to string some together some stops we were able to string together a good amount of stops throughout the game and then be able to finish the plays and rebound the basketball.”
Sarr made 4 of 6 field-goal tries and was 6-for-8 from the free throw line.
“When coming off the bench, it’s bringing energy to the team, a lot of talking on defense and a presence in the paint,” said Sarr, a 7-foot junior from Toulouse, France. “It was just continuous for me and focusing on each and every play.”
Zep Jasper led Charleston with 13 points, but leading scorer Grant Riller was held to 10 points. Riller entered the game with a 21.4 scoring average. Jasper’s 3-pointer with 3:29 to play pulled the Cougars within 56-53, but Sarr’s put-back basket and two free throws by Chaundee Brown helped the Deacs extend the lead.
“We cut it to three points with 2 1/2 minutes to go, had a couple opportunities to execute and get that lead closer but they made the stops,” Charleston coach Earl Grant said. “They forced us into taking bad shots and we couldn’t get closer than three.”