BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Behind a double-double from redshirt junior Brent Wrapp and a game-high 21 points from senior Dedrick Basile, the CSU Bakersfield men’s basketball team held on for a 78-71 victory to open Western Athletic Conference at home against Seattle U Saturday night.
The Roadrunners led the Redhawks from start to finish, but a late surge by Seattle seemed destined to see CSUB give up the lead late in the game. CSUB answered with clutch free throws to hold off the charging Redhawks. “We have really worked on our free throw shooting and it’s one of the things that improved tonight,” said Rod Barnes, Head Coach of the ‘Runners. “We did what we needed to do down the stretch. We got the ball to the right guys and they converted.”
Barnes also credit an all-around effort from his squad for the WAC-opening victory Saturday night: “When we needed plays, whether it was a rebound from Brent or an assist or a three-pointer from Jaylin or a big play or score from Damiyne, we were in a great position.”
Despite never trailing in the contest, CSUB’s nine-point halftime lead dwindled to a single point with 8:57 remaining. Pairs of knocked down free throws from senior Matt Smith and sophomore Damiyne Durham helped the ‘Runners extend the lead back out to five, but the Redhawks were not done pressing.
A pair of free throws with 2:52 to go by SU’s Matej Kavas closed the ‘Runner lead to just two points, but Basile converted on a floater to bring his game-high points total to 21. At 1:47, Seattle U fell asleep on Durham, who only made 2-of-8 three-pointers in the game, but drained a dagger from three feet behind the arc to push the CSUB lead to seven points.
Each of the Redhawks’ runs were answered by the ‘Runners as CSUB earned a win in the WAC opener while improving its record to 10-6 on the year. Wrapp, a native of Boulder, Colo., earned the first double-double of his career after scoring 12 points and dishing out a CSUB Division I record-tying 11 assists.
Basile’s 21 points came in part from a perfect, 5-of-5 performance from distance. Redshirt senior Jaylin Airington added 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists while playing outstanding defense against Seattle U’s most explosive weapon, Brendan Westendorf. The guard came into the game averaging 20 points a contest over his last three games, but Airington and the ‘Runner defense held Westendorf to a mere 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Smith, a senior forward, added eight points and nine rebounds while junior center Fallou Ndoye scored eight points and had four blocks in just 15 minutes. The ‘Runners came into the game shooting only 62.7% from the free throw line, but CSUB knocked down 10-of-11 in the second half while shooting 76.5% on the game (13-of-17). A large rebound advantage for the ‘Runners (39-19) also helped CSUB hold on for the big win in the Icardo Center.
“We have to take it one game at a time,” Barnes said. “Some of our big guys have never played in conference play, so, it was a big win for them. Now we get a chance to go on the road and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been to some good places and played some good teams. Tonight, to close out the way our guys did, is going to give them the confidence they need.”
The ‘Runners hit the road for a tough test next week with a pair of WAC games. CSUB will travel to UT Rio Grand Valley Jan. 12 before finishing the weekend at New Mexico State on Jan. 14. Both contests will be streamed live and fans can listen in on the radio on Newstalk 1180/96.1 FM KERN.