Seniors have made their mark on the men’s program
He’s been a starting point guard and a reserve shooting guard. He’s been through a myriad of injuries and was suspended for one season for off-court problems.
Now, Andre Carter, along with three other seniors, will suit up in the home white uniforms for the final time this weekend in a regular-season game at Brownson Arena.
Carter, Kurt Bangle and Ryan Mathews have each been in the Mavs’ program four years, Jake Swartzendruber two. All four have made their mark.
Bangle, a 6-foot-8 post player, signed with Wichita State out of high school and then transferred after redshirting with the Shockers. He’s been the man in the middle the past two seasons after backing up Andy Classick and Stephen Soriano his first two years.
He’s averaged 8.5 points a game through his career and was a preseason all-RMAC pick this season after scoring 13 points a game last season.
Swartzendruber, a 6-5 forward who transferred from Blue Mountain (Mont.) Community College, has been a swingman for the Mavs, playing forward and center. He started this season backing up Bangle but moved to the starting forward spot after Christmas and has been a big part of the Mavs’ success in the RMAC West. He’s averaging 9.3 points a game.
Then there’s Mathews, the Mavs’ offensive leader who provides scoring from anywhere on the court. Mathews spent one year at Barstow (Calif.) College before transferring to Mesa State.
He redshirted his first season and started every game his sophomore and senior seasons. He provided offense off the bench last season, but came into his own this season with his quick trigger from the 3-point line and beyond, and his ability to penetrate the lane.
He averages 17.3 points a game but is also second on the team in assists with 58. Mathews has reached double figures in 16 of the Mavs’ 23 games and against Regis tied the team single-game scoring record of 33 points. He’s scored 903 points in less than three seasons.
Carter has become the Mavs’ defensive stopper off the bench, and it’s a role he likes.
“This year is the role that works for me,” the 6-1 guard from Salt Lake City said. “This year is the best I can do and what I can do to contribute. As long as we keep winning and get that RMAC championship up there, that’s all I care about.”
Carter has the knack for reading what the offense is doing and jumping into passing lanes for steals, triggering a transition layup.
“My dad was my coach and his emphasis was to use my speed. He told me I have great anticipation and I have the advantage on a lot of players,” Carter said.
“I just read the ball and know where it’s going to go, and I go for it, whether that means me jumping over the crowd, my coach, I’m just trying 100 percent to get the ball.”
Carter will try to use that ability this weekend against Fort Lewis and Adams State to help the Mavs secure a spot in the RMAC Shootout and keep them in the hunt for the West Division title.
They’re tied with Western State for third place, one game behind Fort Lewis and New Mexico Highlands.
Right now, the Mavs have the No. 4 overall spot in the conference, with Metro State the only team that’s wrapped up a division title and a spot in the Shootout. The division champions receive the top two seeds, with the next two highest seeds also hosting first-round games.
Mesa State needs one win in its final four games to clinch a spot in the playoffs, but the Mavs want much more than that.
“We know how it feels to get (to the tournament) and not win,” Carter said. “This year I think we have the team and the squad to put it away. We have to come to play and show up defensively, run our offense, and if we do that, we have a chance to go far, real far.”