BAKERSFIELD, Calif.- The CSUB Roadrunners built a 22-point second-half lead and used their stingy-defense to roll to a 71-63 win over Fresno State in front of a sellout crowd at the Icardo Center Tuesday night snapping a seven-game losing streak in the series with the valley rival.
“We were really good on the defensive end and I think it proves to our guys that if we don’t defend it’s going to be tough for us at times but because we’ve instilled that in our guys, we felt that after we got a lead there we could rely on our defense,” said CSUB head coach Rod Barnes. “Thought our guys did a great job sticking to the game plan, I thought we were pretty consistent throughout with our defense…it was a great win for us.”
The ‘Runners (3-1) led for 36:13 in the contest and only trailed by two points early in the game before Jaylin Airington scored the first of his game-high 28 points via a three-pointer with 14:50 left in the first and CSUB never looked back. Airington was 9-17 from the field, 3-6 from three-point range and 7-8 from the free-throw line in the victory. He also set the tone defensively, holding Fresno State (2-2) leading scorer Paul Watson to just four points in the game on 2-6 from the field. Watson entered averaging 18.
“Jaylin did a great job and I think that was all about our leadership and experience in the backcourt,” Barnes said. “I know he had a big game on the offensive end but more importantly he had a great game on the defensive end, a guy like Watson, as good as he is, I thought Jaylin was as good as he’s been.”
The Roadrunners closed the first half on a 9-4 run capped by a Damiyne Durham three-pointer as time expired. Durham led CSUB scorers off the bench with 15 points on 5-10 from the field and 3-7 from three-point range. Bakersfield continued that momentum in the second half with defensive pressure, turnovers, steals and rebounding. The Roadrunners outrebounded the much larger Bulldogs team 43-31 in the contest including 18 offensive rebounds which led to 11 CSUB second-chance points. The ‘Runners also moved the ball well offensively creating a 34-32 post-scoring advantage.
CSUB built a 22-point lead in the second half with 12:06 remaining following a put-back dunk by freshman Taze Moore. The Roadrunners then settled for slowing the pace down, working the game clock and preventing Fresno State from scoring. From the 11:35 mark to the 6:15 mark there were only seven total points in the game. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 10 points on four occasions inside the final two minutes but could manage nothing more against the Roadrunners.
“Our defense was good enough tonight, that if we just stayed solid we could get some stops and we got some stops when we needed to get them” said Barnes.
Barnes said winning this game over Fresno State meant a lot for Bakersfield.
“We got the monkey off our back,” Barnes said. “It’s one for us, you like to get stuff behind you, you don’t want to lose to a team that’s just down the road, we’ve played them before and had some opportunities but tonight the great thing was it was the first time it didn’t come down to the wire. It tells a lot about this particular team.”
This was the second sellout for CSUB men’s basketball in less than a year following their sellout in February of 2016 vs. New Mexico State.
“The guys love to play in front of this type of crowd and it was just a huge situation where he had to protect our home court,” Barnes said. “Regardless if its Fresno or whoever.”
The Roadrunners will head out to Dayton, Ohio for the Thanksgiving weekend as they play in the Men vs. Breast Cancer Classic hosted by Wright State. The ‘Runners will play the host Raiders in the first game of the tournament on Friday night at 7 P.M. (ET). That game can be heard live on Newstalk 1180 and 96.1 FM KERN beginning at 3:30 (PT) with the Dignity Health Pregame Show. The game will also be carried on ESPN3.com.